Louis H. Wilson Jr.

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Louis H. Wilson Jr.
GEN Wilson, Louis Hugh Jr..jpg
General Louis H. Wilson Jr.
Born (1920-02-11)February 11, 1920
Brandon, Mississippi
Died June 21, 2005(2005-06-21) (aged 85)
Birmingham, Alabama
Buried Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1941–1979
Rank General
Commands held Commandant of the Marine Corps
I Marine Amphibious Force
6th Marine Corps District
The Basic School
2nd Battalion, 5th Marines
Battles/wars World War II Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (3)
Purple Heart (3)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

Louis Hugh Wilson Jr. (February 11, 1920 – June 21, 2005) was a general in the United States Marine Corps and a World War II recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Guam. He served as the 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1975 until his retirement from the Marine Corps in 1979, after 38 years of service.

Early life

Wilson was born in Brandon, Mississippi, on February 11, 1920. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941 from Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi, where he participated in football and track. Wilson was also an active member of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, initiated on February 23, 1939.

Military career

Wilson enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in May 1941 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in November of that year. After attending officers' basic training, he was assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California.

World War II

Wilson as a captain receives his Medal of Honor

Wilson was deployed to the Pacific theater with the 9th Marines in February 1943, making stops at Guadalcanal, Efate, and Bougainville. He was promoted to captain in April 1943. During the Battle of Guam on July 25–26, 1944, while commanding Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Wilson earned the nation's highest honor for heroism in combat, the Medal of Honor, when he and his company repelled and destroyed a numerically superior enemy force. Because of wounds received, he was evacuated to the United States Naval Hospital, San Diego, where he remained until October 16, 1944.

Wilson returned to duty as Commanding Officer, Company D, Marine Barracks, Camp Pendleton, California. In December 1944, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he served as Detachment Commander at the Marine Barracks. While in Washington, he was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman. He was promoted to major in March 1945.

1946 to 1965

From June 1946 until August 1951, Wilson had consecutive tours as Dean and Assistant Director, Marine Corps Institute; Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Pacific; and Officer in Charge, District Headquarters Recruiting Station, New York City.

Promoted to lieutenant colonel in November 1951, while stationed at Quantico, Virginia, Wilson served consecutively as Commanding Officer of The Basic School's 1st Training Battalion; Commanding Officer of Camp Barrett; and Executive Office of The Basic School. He completed the Officer's Senior Course in August 1954.

After a brief tour as a Senior School Instructor, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Wilson departed for Korea to serve as Assistant G-3, 1st Marine Division. In August 1955, he returned to the United States with the 1st Division, and was appointed Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. In March 1956, Wilson was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC), serving two years as Head, Operations Section, G-3 Division. He then returned to Quantico, first as Commanding Officer of the Test and Training Regiment, and later as Commanding Officer of The Basic School.

In June 1962, after graduation from the National War College, Wilson was assigned as Joint Plans Coordinator to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Plans and Programs), HQMC.

Vietnam War

Wilson transferred to the 1st Marine Division and deployed with the division in August 1965, stopping at Okinawa before going to Vietnam. As Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 1st Marine Division, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star.

1966 to 1975

Wilson as a BGen at the 1967 General Officers Symposium (2nd from left, top row)

Upon his return to the United States in August 1966, Wilson assumed command of the 6th Marine Corps District, Atlanta, Georgia. Promoted to brigadier general in November 1966, he was assigned to HQMC in January 1967, as Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps until July 1968. He then served as Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, until March 1970, earning a second Legion of Merit.

Wilson was advanced to the grade of major general in March 1970 and assumed command of I Marine Amphibious Force, 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa, where he was awarded a third Legion of Merit for his service.

In April 1971, Wilson returned to Quantico for duty as Deputy for Education/Director, Education Center, Marine Corps Development and Education Command. He was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1972 and on September 1, 1972 assumed command of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. During that tour, Wilson was presented the Korean Order of National Security Merit, Guk-Seon Medal, 2d Class and the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Commander) for his service to those countries.

Commandant of the Marine Corps

Wilson was promoted to general on July 1, 1975, when he assumed the office of Commandant of the Marine Corps. As Commandant, Wilson repeatedly stressed modernization of the post-Vietnam Marine Corps. He insisted on force readiness, responsiveness, and mobility by maintaining fast-moving, hard-hitting expeditionary units, each consisting of a single integrated system of modern ground- and air-delivered firepower, tactical mobility, and electronic countermeasures. Wilson was the first Marine Corps Commandant to serve full-time on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[1]

Awards and decorations

Wilson was the recipient of the following awards:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars 
Bronze oak leaf cluster
 "V" device, gold.svg 1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1 golden star.svg
1st Row Medal of Honor Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ Bronze oak leaf cluster Legion of Merit w/ valor device & 2 award stars Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
2nd Row Purple Heart w/ 2 award stars Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
3rd Row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars World War II Victory Medal
4th Row National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 service stars National Order of Vietnam, Officer degree Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ palm & gold star
5th Row Korean Order of National Security Merit, Gugseon Medal Philippine Legion of Honor, rank of Commander Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company F, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Fonte Hill, Guam, Marianas Islands, 25 and July 26, 1944. Ordered to take that portion of the hill within his zone of action, Captain Wilson initiated his attack in midafternoon, pushed up the rugged, open terrain against terrific machine-gun and rifle fire for 300 yards and successfully captured the objective. Promptly assuming command of other disorganized units and motorized equipment in addition to his own company and one reinforcing platoon, he organized his night defenses in the face of continuous hostile fire and, although wounded three times during this five-hour period, completed his disposition of men and guns before retiring to the company command post for medical attention. Shortly thereafter, when the enemy launched the first of a series of savage counterattacks lasting all night, he voluntarily rejoined his besieged units and repeatedly exposed himself to the merciless hail of shrapnel and bullets, dashing fifty yards into the open on one occasion to rescue a wounded Marine lying helpless beyond the front lines. Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters, he led his men in furiously waged battle for approximately ten hours, tenaciously holding his line and repelling the fanatically renewed counterthrusts until he succeeded in crushing the last efforts of the hard-pressed Japanese early the following morning. Then, organizing a seventeen-man patrol, he immediately advanced upon a strategic slope essential to the security of his position and, boldly defying intense mortar, machine-gun and rifle fire which struck down thirteen of his men, drove relentlessly forward with the remnants of his patrol to seize the vital ground. By his indomitable leadership, daring combat tactics and dauntless valor in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain Wilson succeeded in capturing and holding the strategic high ground in his regimental sector, thereby contributing essentially to the success of his regimental mission and to the annihilation of 350 Japanese troops. His inspiring conduct throughout the critical periods of this decisive action enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.



Wilson retired on June 30, 1979 and returned to his home in Mississippi. For "exceptionally distinguished service" during his four-year tenure as Commandant, and his contributions as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (first oak leaf cluster), upon retirement.

Wilson died at his home in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 21, 2005. As with all former Marine Corps Commandants, in accordance with Article 1288 of Navy Regulations, all ships and stations of the Department of the Navy flew the national flag at half-mast from the time of Wilson's death until sunset of the date of interment. Wilson was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on July 19, 2005.


See also


  1. ^ Arlington National Cemetery profile.
  2. ^ "New base gate will offer traffic congestion relief". Jacksonville Daily News. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
  3. ^ "Achieving Aesthetics and Functionality". The Military Engineer. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
  4. ^ "Marine Corps Dedicates OCS Battalion Command Post". United States Navy. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
  5. ^ "Secretary Mabus Names Two Destroyers for Medal of Honor Recipients". DOD Press Operations. 2016-09-17. Retrieved 2016-09-19.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  • "General Louis Hugh Wilson Jr., USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. United States Marine Corps History Division. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  • "Capt Louis H. Wilson Jr., Medal of Honor, 1944, 2/9/3, Guam (Medal of Honor citation)". Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2007-02-20.
  • "Louis Hugh Wilson Jr., General, United States Marine Corps". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2007-04-21.
  • Allan Reed Millett and Jack Shulimson, eds. (2004). Commandants of the Marine Corps. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 427–436. ISBN 978-0-87021-012-9.
  • Crockett, Staff Sgt David L. (July 19, 2005). "26th Commandant laid to rest, a hero". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012.
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert Everton Cushman Jr.
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Robert H. Barrow
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