Military Times NOW hosts the HomeOfHeroes  Awards & Citations Database

 

Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

News From The Past


April 4, 1998

Harold Wilson, Marine Sergeant who won
Medal of Honor, dies

 By Richard Goldstein

 

Harold Wilson, a former Marine sergeant who won the Medal of Honor in the Korean War for "heroic actions in the face of almost certain death" in the Chinese Communists' massive human-wave offensive of April 1951, died Sunday at Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, S.C. He was 76 and lived in Lexington, S.C. The cause was lung cancer, his family said. 

On April 11, 1952, Wilson received the nation's highest award for valor from President Harry Truman in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. That day, the Marine Corps, recalling the events in Korea a year earlier, said Wilson had proved to be "indestructible." Wilson, then a technical sergeant with a rifle platoon in the 1st Marine Division, was shot in a shoulder, right arm and left leg, received a head wound and a concussion as his men were besieged in the predawn hours of April 24, 1951. But he organized his troops' resistance under intense enemy fire. And then, when the attackers had been driven off, Wilson walked a half-mile, unaided, to get the medical assistance he had refused all night. 

The first weeks of April 1951 had brought a lull in the Korean fighting. The stunning news from the war was not about combat. It was about Truman's dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the U.N. commander, for insubordination. But on April 22, some 250,000 Chinese soldiers struck across a 40-mile front to begin their spring offensive. When South Korea's 6th Division collapsed in a panic, Marine Corps units were rushed by truck to plug a large gap through which the Chinese were advancing. Wilson's rifle platoon, part of Company G of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in the 1st Marine Division, took up positions on Hill 902 just north of the 38th Parallel, near the Hwachon Reservoir in North Korea. 

About midnight on April 23, Chinese soldiers overran a company outpost and poured mortar, machine-gun and rifle fire on the platoon. Wilson was wounded in the right arm and left leg, but refused medical aid and moved among his men, shouting encouragement and directing the treatment of other wounded men. Then he was wounded in the head and shoulder, but he still insisted on remaining in action. 

Wilson was unable to use either arm to fire his rifle, and marine casualties were mounting. But he took rifles and ammunition from wounded marines and passed them to the men who could still fight. Later, he received reinforcements and, after placing them in position, directed fire until blown off his feet by a mortar shell. Dazed and suffering a concussion, he still refused medical aid. Although weakened by loss of blood, he moved from foxhole to foxhole, supplying more ammunition and providing first aid and encouragement. 

At dawn the attack had been repulsed, and Wilson headed off to see to his wounds. By April 30, the Communists' offensive had failed. U.N. troops temporarily lost some territory, but inflicted 70,000 casualties -- 10 times their own losses -- and kept Seoul, the South Korean capital, from falling into Communist hands for the third time in the war. 

Harold Edward Wilson was born in Birmingham, Ala., and worked in a steel mill before entering the Marines in 1942. He served in the Pacific in World War II and was called back into the military for the Korean War. He was among the Marines in the epic retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950 amid horrendous cold and blizzards. He remained in the Marine Corps after the Korean War and later served in Vietnam. 

After retiring from military service in 1972 as a chief warrant officer, he worked as a benefits counselor for the Veterans Administration. He is survived by two sons, Harold Jr. and John, both of Lexington, and three brothers, William and Thomas, both of Birmingham, and Walter, of Chattanooga, Tenn. 

Harold Wilson said his father was a modest man who seldom spoke of what he had done. "He just did the job he was sent to do," the son said, recalling how a fellow member of the Marine Corps League, an organization of former Marines, "said he knew my father for over six months before he found out he won the Medal of Honor."

 

 

1998, by The New York Times
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Return To The

Archives Index

 

Home Page

Hall Of Heroes

MOH Community 

NEWS

Kidz Page

FEATURE STORIES
  Profiles In Courage | Wings of ValorThe Brotherhood of Soldiers At War | Go For Broke
 Pearl Harbor  | A Splendid Little War | Shinmiyangyo-Korea 1871 | Quick Links to MOH Stories

RECIPIENT WEB SITES
Barney Barnum  |  Jack Lucas  |  Mitch Paige  |  Wesley Fox  |  Sammy Davis
Roger Donlon
Peter Lemon  |  Drew Dix  |  Mike Novosel

Medal Of Honor Calendar  |  Books By MOH RecipientsSteve Ryan MOH Posters

What Does 
A Hero Look Like?

Click on Superman To Find out


FOOTNOTES
In
HISTORY

NEW
Looking for a Hero or trying to verify awards? We have posted the names of more than 120,000 recipients of the highest awards in a BRAND NEW FREE SECTION
DECORATIONS 1862 - Present
.

Military Medals & Awards 

Information and Images of ALL Military Medals
The Purple Heart 
How to Request Records/Medals Earned
  How to Obtain Military Records of a Family Member 

Honor Roll of America's Military Heroes


Brevet Medal


DSC 


Navy Cross 


Air Force Cross 

Distinguished Service Medals

Defense - Army - Navy - Air Force - Coast Guard - Merchant Marine



Silver Star

U.S. History and Information
The History Room | U.S. Flag HistoryHistory of the Flag |
How to Display the Flag
| The National Anthem | The Pledge of Allegiance The American Creed | The Seal of our Nation | Our National Symbol
Arthur MacArthur's Flag | William Carney's Flag | FDR's Flag of Liberation]

FLAG DAY           STATE FLAGS
American Presidents
U.S. Presidents | Inaugural Addresses

God & Country
ROOM

MY HERO Web Page Creator 
(Create a Tribute to the Hero in Your Own Life)

SEARCH
bn_search.jpg (3967 bytes)
OUR SITE

EDUCATIONAL

GAME ARCADE

OR
Quick Quiz

***
Electronic Post Cards
Talking Points 

Remembering 911
The Binch
Citizens Speak Out

BEYOND THE MEDAL

This 5 Disc DVD Education Program has been distributed to over 17,500 Public & Private High Schools and is now available to the public!


 

HomeOfHeroes.com now has more than 25,000 pages of US History for you to view.