Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TFH 2/15: PFC Louis E. Willett, USA

Louis Edward Willett was born in Brooklyn, NY during the waning days of World War II in 1945. In February 1967, a draftee, he was serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment - part of the storied 4th Infantry Division. The 12th Infantry is one of the most historic regiments of our Army.

The regiment was first constituted during the Civil War at Fort Hamilton in New York. The regiment served with distinction throughout our history including landing in the first wave on Utah Beach during Operation OVERLORD - the invasion of Normandy, France, D-Day, June 6, 1944. Their motto is Ducti Amore Patriae, in English, Led By Love of Country.

On this day in 1967, Private First Class Louis Willett's love of country and his fellow fighting man inspired him to acts of supreme courage, and supreme sacrifice. For his gallantry, his Nation deemed him worthy of its highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (M-Z):


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. Place and date: Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 February 1967. Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y. Born: 19 June 1945, Brooklyn, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Willett distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman in Company C, during combat operations. His squad was conducting a security sweep when it made contact with a large enemy force. The squad was immediately engaged with a heavy volume of automatic weapons fire and pinned to the ground. Despite the deadly fusillade, Pfc. Willett rose to his feet firing rapid bursts from his weapon and moved to a position from which he placed highly effective fire on the enemy. His action allowed the remainder of his squad to begin to withdraw from the superior enemy force toward the company perimeter. Pfc. Willett covered the squad's withdrawal, but his position drew heavy enemy machinegun fire, and he received multiple wounds enabling the enemy again to pin down the remainder of the squad. Pfc. Willett struggled to an upright position, and, disregarding his painful wounds, he again engaged the enemy with his rifle to allow his squad to continue its movement and to evacuate several of his comrades who were by now wounded. Moving from position to position, he engaged the enemy at close range until he was mortally wounded. By his unselfish acts of bravery, Pfc. Willett insured the withdrawal of his comrades to the company position, saving their lives at the cost of his life. Pfc. Willett's valorous actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country. 

Today, Louis Edward Willett's name can be found on Panel 15E, Line 37 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our Nation's capital. He rests in peace in the Roman Catholic Cemetery of Saint John, Middle Village, Queens, NY.

1st Battalion, 12th Infantry continues to serve today in defense of liberty and our Nation with the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, CO.

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