Saturday, November 14, 2009
Born: December 15, 1920
Mechanic Falls, Maine
Rank: Captain, US Army, Company E , 27th Infantry Regiment
Location of action: Vicinity of Soam-Ni Korea
Date of action: February 7, 1951
Medal received from: President Harry Truman July 15, 1951
Captain Millett, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position he noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire. Captain Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the two platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge Capt. Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement.
Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder.
During this fierce onslaught Captain Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Captain Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.
In 1940, Lewis Millet left high school at the end of his junior year to enlist in the Army. Increasingly upset with German aggression in Europe and the Nazis' treatment of jews and anxious to get into combat, he deserted the Army at the start of World War II and went to Canada to join the Canadian Army. Millet was fighting overseas with the Canadians when the United States entered the war. When American troops began arriving in England in 1942, Millet took advantage of a provision that allwoed American citizens serving with an allied country to transfer into the u.S. military.
Millet went the American Embassy and asked to be transferred back and was placed with the 1st Armored Division in North Africa. By the time his records caught up with him Millet had earned a silver star, a bronze star, was a buck sergeant, had spent six months in Africa, six months in Italy. Millett has served in three wars – WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He received the Medal of Honor for action during the Korean war.
Lewis Millett wrote the following poem in memory of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, especially his youngest son, and the 347 people who were killed returning from a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai.
MH: You returned to the States to receive the Medal of Honor. What did you do after that?
Millett: I was an aide-de-camp to General John R. Hodge. Then I went to Greece as an adviser to the Greek army, where I was promoted to major. Now I had never been to an Army school as an officer, so on my return from Greece I attended the Infantry Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, a school usually attended by young captains. After that, I went to Ranger school at Fort Benning. That would be in 1958. I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division after Ranger school.
MH: What did you do there?
Millett: At first I was assigned to the 506th Battle Group as S-2 [intelligence officer]. During a maneuver I led the 506th I & R [intelligence and reconnaissance] Platoon and captured the headquarters of the 82nd Airborne Division. This impressed the 101st commander, Maj. Gen. William Westmoreland, and he asked me to set up a school for small unit leaders. I formed the Recondo school based on what I had learned in Ranger school.
MH: You first went to Vietnam in 1960. What were your duties?
Millett: I set up Ranger schools in three areas. I started the Vietnamese Rangers with Vietnamese officers who had been through the American Ranger school. You know how I got things done? When I was running the Recondo school, 20th Century Fox made a 15-minute film, Rangers in the 101st. It showed the training, the death slide, all that stuff. When we started the Rangers in Vietnam, a Special Forces team was sent to set up the course. They weren’t Ranger qualified. I was supposed to be the adviser, but they were setting up the course! They had a big reputation, but when I showed that film, they bought everything I said.
MH: You graduated from the Command and General Staff School and the Army War College. What did you do when you returned to Vietnam in 1970?
Millett: I had been in Laos in 1968 to 1970. My family was living in Bangkok, Thailand. Back in Vietnam, I was adviser to the II Corps Phoenix Program that was trying to disrupt Viet Cong infrastructure in towns and villages. You know the Phoenix Program got a lot of bad publicity about being murderers and so forth. I never saw any of that. We would get information about the comings and goings of Viet Cong leadership, and we would set up ambushes along routes to and from the villages. We were trying to capture Viet Cong leaders to find out more about them. But we did kill a lot of them when they wouldn’t surrender. Because I volunteered for two years, my family could visit. All my kids have been there. My son Lee went on patrols with me. My youngest son, John, lived with a Vietnamese family for three months. My wife was part Cherokee, and she thought there might be a Montagnard relationship with American Indians because of the designs on their cloths and other things. Well, we went visiting Montagnard villages in the mountains, sometimes at night in a vehicle with our lights on. And we never got shot at! This was 1972. We had won the war! Then we turned it over to the Vietnamese, and we came home. That’s when I got angry because we quit, and I got out of the Army.
Millett: They were 350 Montagnards who had been drafted by the Viet Cong. They wanted to quit fighting and came to negotiate with the Dalat province chief. They weren’t changing sides; they just wanted to go home. Their commander, Ha Rat Sin, feared that he would be arrested if he went to negotiate. I told him they could hold me as a hostage for his safe return. They eventually came in and I was released. I heard later that they were all executed after the North Vietnamese took over the country. One time in my life I got people to stop fighting and be free — if I’d let them keep on fighting, they’d still be alive today.
MH: Did you receive any awards in Vietnam?
Millett: I wouldn’t accept any American decorations. I wasn’t there for recognition for myself but to help win freedom for a people. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.
MH: Are you still involved with the Army?
Millett: I have been the Honorary Colonel of the 27th Regiment since 1985, and I travel to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, at least once a year in that capacity. [Retired Lt. Gen. John Foley became the Honorary Colonel in January 2001, the 100th anniversary of the regiment.] Also, at the request of the Army chief of staff, I went to Germany to welcome Oregon National Guardsmen back from duty in Bosnia. And I’ve been to Korea many times. I’m on the Riverside County Veterans Affairs Committee that makes recommendations to the board of supervisors on actions that affect veterans. I’m a past national commander of the Legion of Valor, and a former district director of the Medal of Honor Society. And I belong to many veterans’ organizations. I manage to keep busy.
This article was written by Korean War veteran John M. Glenn and originally published in the February 2002 issue of Military History magazine.
Col. Lewis Lee Millett: A great American hero of three wars
Published: September 27, 2009
I recently received an e-mail from Jerry Beckett, commander of American Legion Post 330. The e-mail forwarded some information about a man who served his country in three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam. His name is Lewis Lee Millett, Col., USA, Retired. He lives in California.
Intrigued by the e-mail, I decided to see what I could find about the service of Col. Millett. The following is a brief digest of his service to God and country.
He was born in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on Dec. 15, 1920. In 1938, he joined the Maine National Guard. In 1940 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
When President Roosevelt declared that the United States would not become involved in the conflict in Europe, Millett deserted and went to Canada, where he joined the Canadian Army. He was sent to England, and when the United States became involved in the war he was permitted to transfer to the U.S. Army.
In November 1942, he was a part of the invasion force landing in North Africa. A short time later at Medjez-el-Bab, Tunisia, he was in combat, where he received the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action.
After action at Stuka Valley, Kasserine Pass and Tebessa (where he shot down a Messerschmitt Me-109 with a machine gun from the ground), his unit was sent to Italy. Now a sergeant, it was at Naples where his past (desertion) caught up with him. His executive officer advised him that he had been court-martialed and given 30 days at hard labor (suspended). Shortly thereafter, he was commissioned a second lieutenant.
When fighting ended in Italy on April 29, 1945, he was sent home and later that year received his honorable discharge from the Army. He again joined the Maine National Guard and was subsequently sent to Osaka, Japan, and assigned to the Eighth Field Artillery.
When the Korean War (some call it a police action — a United Nations term) broke out, he served as a forward observation officer. Millett was now a captain and in a fight at Ipsok, Korea, in November, he was wounded.
After recovering, he transferred to the infantry and as a company commander put two Browning Automatic Rifles in each squad (usually there was only one) and had each man carry four to six grenades (usually only two), and he instructed his men in the use of the bayonet. A short time later, his company assaulted a hill and one of his platoon lieutenants was wounded. Under fire, he rescued the lieutenant and was awarded the Silver Star.
Three days later, his company was assigned the task of attacking Hill 180. In hand-to-hand combat, Millett bayoneted several Chinese and again suffered wounds.
His company took Hill 180, and he quickly regrouped in defensive position. Capt. Millett was sent back to the states, and it was there that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
After being promoted to major, he served as an adviser to the Greek army and later was assigned to the 101st Airborne. He first went to Vietnam in 1960 to set up Ranger schools. After graduating from the Command and General Staff School and the Army War College, he returned to Vietnam as a colonel serving with distinction.
Credit for much of this information must be given to John M. Glenn and the Military History magazine.
Bayne’s column runs every Sunday on the editorial page.
Training at the TTC
BY Mike Bigelow
INSCOM History Office
The Tactical Training Center compound developed and contructed by Lt. Col. Lewis L. Millet, the first TTC commander at Fort Devens, Mass., in the mid-1960s. (File Photo)
In the mid-1960s, the Army Security Agency, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Commands predecessor, began to send a steady flow of Soldiers to the Republic of Vietnam. These deploying Soldiers, like those currently deploying to Iraq, faced a 360-degree battlefield, where the front lines were not clearly defined and support troops found themselves in combat situations. To prepare its Soldiers for this, the ASA Training Center and School at Fort Devens, Mass., established the Tactical Training Course in July 1965.
The TTCs establishment fell to Lt. Col. Lewis L. Millett, who received the Medal of Honor for leading a bayonet charge during the Korean War. Millett wanted to produce the most realistic training experience possible. He found Vietnamese speaking Soldiers or Asian-American Soldiers to play the role of Viet Cong aggressors. Lacking funding to create what he envisioned, Millett and his training staff ingeniously used available resources, including lumber from razed barracks and wood from his own farm in Maine to build an authentic looking Vietnam village in the Fort Devens training area. Within two years, the TTC would boast two Vietnamese villages: one friendly and one hostile. The former had a Buddhist shrine, rice paddies and sapling fence, while the latter had a tunnel system and spider holes.
The 10-day training cycle was divided into two phases. During the first phase, Soldiers trained on the weapons and equipment of an ASA company that directly supported a combat division. During driver training, they practiced blackout driving as well as ambush drills. Weapons training on the rifle, machine gun, and grenade launcher were culminated with live-firing. More importantly, the Soldiers learned to perform patrolling, establish perimeters and other squad tactics. Throughout the phase, the TTC instructors stressed the six-paragraph code of conduct.
During the second phase of TTC the tactical scenarios became more intense for the students. They received Army-mandated training on the geography, history and politics of Vietnam, the Communist strategy and threat, and the U.S. mission there. This was done in the friendly Vietnamese village of Mot Dong. Between tactical squad exercises and rehearsals, the TTC instructors trained the Soldiers on emergency destruction of equipment and information as well as escape and evasion techniques. On the ninth day of the training, the students prepared for their final exercise.
In the scenario, Student Company was ordered to move from its defensive position to a more secure area. It began in a tactical convoy, but Viet Cong guerilla bands ambushed the convoy and destroyed its vehicles with land mines or grenades. Employing the newly trained ambush drills, the students repulsed the final assault, but were forced to continue on foot. Upon approaching the enemy village of Hai Dong, they received orders to sweep the village and its subterranean tunnel complex. The students fought their way into the village and then defended it against a counterattack. At this point, the TTC instructors told the students that they needed to organize into groups of two or three and exfiltrate to friendly lines. If successful, the student was debriefed by the intelligence officer and taken to the TTC administrative area.
Not all students were successful in making their way back to friendly lines, and some were captured by Viet Cong patrols. Those students underwent simulated, but surprisingly harsh, interrogation. The simulated capture and interrogation gave the Soldiers an opportunity to practice and apply the Code of Conduct. After 15 to 20 minutes of interrogation, the students were allowed to escape and rejoin their comrades.
The next morning, the students struck their bivouac and cleaned and turned in their weapons.
The TTC was an important addition to the training at the ASA Training Center and School. While most of an ASA Soldiers training concentrated on the technical skills of the collection and analysis of signals intelligence, the TTCs training gave basic Soldier skills needed to successfully perform their mission on the battlefield where the combat zone was ill-defined. As one deployed Soldier, reflecting on his TTC experience, wrote, I really hope that Ill never have to put such training to use. But, on the other hand, it is always reassuring that Ive had it in the first place.
Medal of Honor Citation
27th Infantry Regiment.
BORN: 15 December 1920, Mechanic Falls, Maine.
ENTERED SERVICE AT:Mechanic Falls, Maine. PLACE AND DATE: Vicinity of Soam-Ni, Korea, 7 February 1951.
Capt. Millett, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position he noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire. Capt. Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the 2 platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire swept hill. In the fierce charge Capt. Millett bayoneted 2 enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement. Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder. During this fierce onslaught Capt. Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Capt. Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 12, 1998
Release No. 98021
Medal of Honor recipient returns to Osan for "Bayonet Hill" ceremony
by Staff Sgt. Chris Miller
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
|Army Col. (ret.) Lewis Millett, Medal of Honor recipient for his exploits during the Korean Conflict, speaks at a Hill 180 remembrance ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Orly Tyrell)|
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (PACAFNS) -- From Veterans of Foreign Wars to Boy Scouts and high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, people gathered Feb. 6 at the site known as Hill 180 in a ceremony to remember those who gave their lives in combat during the Korean Conflict.
This was a special ceremony as Army Col. (ret.) Lewis Millett, who led the charge up "Bayonet Hill" in 1951, and awarded the Medal of Honor, was the special guest.
After Lt. Gen. Randolph House, 8th Army chief of staff, gave his remarks, Millett took the podium. As he began to speak, the crowd grew silent, on the edge of their seats listening to his every word as he spoke about the assault, how his men faced heavy anti-tank and machine gun fire, and how they rushed the Chinese who had pinned down one of his platoons.
"You don't realize what an honor it is for me to be here today," said Millett. "This is an opportunity for me to thank you, not just the VFW who sponsored my trip here, or the Army and Air Force, but to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country."
Nearly 47 years to the day it happened, Millett said his attack on the Chinese was ordered to unnerve the enemy. The Chinese thought Americans were afraid to use their bayonets.
He also talked about freedom and the price that was paid, not only in the Korean Conflict, but all wars, for the freedom we enjoy today.
"I have fought in three wars, in seven countries, visited kings and commoners, peasants and presidents, soldiers and strangers," said Millett. "And all they wanted was to be free and live in peace. But the price of freedom comes at a very high price."
Millett then read a soldier's prayer, which he wrote after his oldest son was killed coming back from a peacekeeping mission. The ending of the prayer was, "So to you who've answered duty's siren call, may God bless you my son, may God bless you all."
When Millett was finished speaking, the overflow crowd gave him a standing ovation as he walked back to his seat. Many observers had tears in their eyes.
Bagpipes then played Amazing Grace on the top of the hill overlooking the ceremony before representatives laid wreaths near the Hill 180 monument.
Col. Con Rodi, 51st Fighter Wing vice commander, had a sign called Millett Road, which renamed the road running from the Hill 180 gate down to the A-10 monument at Broadway. Although still pending official approval, Rodi declared the road should unofficially be referred to as Millet Road. Rodi then gave Millett the actual sign, saying the base would have other ones made.