Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TFH 4/24: Technical Sergeant Harold E. Wilson, USMC

Harold Edward Wilson was born on December 5, 1921 in Birmingham, Alabama. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and was assigned to duty with the active Marines in April 1942. He served honorably in the Pacific throughout World War II, and was released from active duty in October 1945 with the rank of Sergeant.

Wilson returned to service in the Marine reserves in 1947. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, he was recalled to active duty and was soon fighting there with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division.

On the night of April 23-24, 1951 Wilson's company was largely overrun by Communist attackers. His platoon was barely able to hang onto its hastily prepared defensive positions. Wilson was wounded multiple times, but as the platoon sergeant, he knew that his first duty was to do everything in his power to keep his Marines in the fight. That he did, and his incredible courage and resolve was recognized with our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company G, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Korea, 23-24 April 1951. Entered service at: Birmingham, Ala. Born: S December 1921, Birmingham, Ala. Citation: For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as platoon sergeant of a rifle platoon attached to Company G, in action against enemy aggressor forces on the night of 23-24 April 1951. When the company outpost was overrun by the enemy while his platoon, firing from hastily constructed foxholes, was engaged in resisting the brunt of a fierce mortar, machine gun, grenade, and small-arms attack launched by hostile forces from high ground under cover of darkness, T/Sgt. Wilson braved intense fire to assist the survivors back into the line and to direct the treatment of casualties. Although twice wounded by gunfire, in the right arm and the left leg, he refused medical aid for himself and continued to move about among his men, shouting words of encouragement. After receiving further wounds in the head and shoulder as the attack increased in intensity, he again insisted upon remaining with his unit. Unable to use either arm to fire, and with mounting casualties among our forces, he resupplied his men with rifles and ammunition taken from the wounded. Personally reporting to his company commander on several occasions, he requested and received additional assistance when the enemy attack became even more fierce and, after placing the reinforcements in strategic positions in the line, directed effective fire until blown off his feet by the bursting of a hostile mortar round in his face. Dazed and suffering from concussion, he still refused medical aid and, despite weakness from loss of blood, moved from foxhole to foxhole, directing fire, resupplying ammunition, rendering first aid, and encouraging his men. By his heroic actions in the face of almost certain death, when the unit's ability to hold the disadvantageous position was doubtful, he instilled confidence in his troops, inspiring them to rally repeatedly and turn back the furious assaults. At dawn, after the final attack had been repulsed, he personally accounted for each man in his platoon before walking unassisted l/2 mile to the aid station where he submitted to treatment. His outstanding courage, initiative, and skilled leadership in the face of overwhelming odds were contributing factors in the success of his company's mission and reflect the highest credit upon T/Sgt. Wilson and the U.S. Naval Service.

Wilson was evacuated to Japan and from there to the United States. He continued his service in the Marine Corps and received a commission as a Warrant Officer in 1952. He went to war again in Vietnam where he served with Marine Aircraft Group 13. He retired from the Marines in February 1972 as a Chief Warrant Officer.

He passed away at age 76 on March 29, 1998 in Lexington, South Carolina and rests in peace at Woodridge Memorial Park in that town. 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment is still part of the 1st Marine Division. Their home station is Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. They are currently deployed in the Pacific as the ground combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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