Retired Col. Lewis L. Millett, who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for leading what was reportedly the last major American bayonet charge, died Nov 14.
Millett, 88, died in Loma Linda, Calif., last weekend after serving for more than 15 years as the honorary colonel of the 27th Infantry Regiment Association.
Millet received the Medal of Honor for his actions Feb. 7, 1951. He led Company E, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division in a bayonet charge up Hill 180 near Soam-Ni, Korea.
A captain at the time, Millet was leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position when he noticed that a platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire.
Millett placed himself at the head of two other platoons, ordered fixed bayonets, and led an assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge, Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement, according to his Medal of Honor citation.
“Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill,” the citation states. “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 the attack, Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was firmly secured. He recovered, and after the war went to attend Ranger School.
In the 1960s he ran the 101st Airborne Division Recondo School, for reconnaissance-commando training, at Fort Campbell, Ky. Then he served in a number of special operations advisory assignments in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He founded the Royal Thai Army Ranger School with help of the 46th Special Forces Company. This unit is reportedly the only one in the U.S.Army to ever simultaneously be designated as both Ranger and Special Forces.
Millet retired from the Army in 1973.
“I was very saddened to hear Col. Millett passed away,” said Maj. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the current commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. “He was a rare breed, a true patriot who never stopped serving his country. He was a role model for thousands of Soldiers and he will be missed.”
Rest in Peace, Colonel Millett.