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Korean War Veterans Association

Chartered by Congress June 30, 2008
*Korean War and Korea Service Veterans...
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Hill 180 Ceremony
February 10, 2006

 

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Korean War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Lewis L. Millett Ret.
Col. Lewis Millett

Every year at Osan Air Base in South Korea, a ceremony is held at the actual site of Hill 180 where on February 7, 1951, the men of Easy Company, 27th Infantry Regiment (“Wolfhounds”), commanded by then Captain Lewis L. Millett, a Maine native, led a bayonet charge against a well-entrenched and superior force of Chinese and won the day.

This year’s ceremony was held on February 10 and was hosted by the 3d Battlefield Coordination Detachment, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10216 and the 51st Fighter Wing.

Curley Knepp, a member of the National KWVA and the Burton-Goode-Sargent and CPL Clair Goodblood [MOH] Chapters in Maine, represented the KWVA and provided the following information.  Curley served with the 5th RCT during the Korean War; he currently lives with his wife Mag Nai in South Korea.

David Teets, Commander, Department of Pacific Areas, VFW. was the master of ceremonies.

The guest speaker for the event was Army Colonel Ross E. Ridge, Chief of Staff for the 2nd Infantry Division.

On behalf of the Millett family, Curley presented Colonel Ridge with a memento coin commemorating the occasion.

As reported in the MiG Alley Flyer, February 17 issue, Colonel Ridge had this to say,

“We came here today because of bonds we share with the men of Easy Company.
“Such bonds are not physical bonds, of course.

“They are the much stronger and enduring spiritual bonds that bind men and women together in the face of great danger.

“Determined and courageous men and women are willing to place their lives at stake for something of great and enduring value.”

When Osan Air Base was constructed, it was built around the legendary Korean War battle site. Today, the 51st Fighter Wing has its headquarters near the site.

The street in front of the monument is named in Lewis Millett’s honor.

Millett enlisted in the Army as a private in 1942, earning a battlefield commission in World War II and many awards.  After he returned home, he attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, before re-entering the Army for Korea service.

On February 5, 1951, as Easy Company was cautiously moving over frozen rice paddies as part of Eight Army’s “Operation Thunderbolt” to recapture Seoul from the Chinese, Captain Millett and his men were pinned down just south of what today is Osan Air Base by Chinese machine-gun fire from a small hill.

Millett ordered two platoons to fix their bayonets and then led the troops up the hill.  He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, but it was only a prelude to a bigger fight ahead.  Two days later, when Company E came upon Hill 180, a 600-foot knoll in Osan, they came under heavy fire.

Millett ordered the tanks off the road then grabbed the .50-caliber machine gun and began
 returning fire. He told the tank’s gunner to continue firing. He leapt from the tank and ordered his men to fix bayonets.

  • “We’re going up the hill.
  • “Fix bayonets.
  • “Charge!
  • “Everyone goes with me!”

In the intense hand-to-hand combat, Millett personally killed at least three Chinese soldiers, but was seriously wounded by an enemy grenade blast.  By early afternoon, his Easy Company had taken the hill.  Forty-seven dead Chinese lay on the forward slope, 30 of them killed with bayonets.  On the reverse slope were another 50 Chinese bodies.  Easy Company lost nine men.

Some historians have said that the Battle of Bayonet Hill was the "greatest bayonet attack by U.S. soldiers since Cold Harbor in the Civil War.

For his heroic action that day, Captain Millett was awarded the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony on July 5, 1951.  He retired from the Army as a colonel in 1973 after a career of 31 years that spanned three wars.

Colonel Millett now lives in Idyllwild, California.  The Colonel did not attend the dedication ceremony in Korea this year due to declining health.  However, Curley Knepp sent him pictures and copies of the program and articles for the mini-museum he has at his home.

Our best wishes go out to the Colonel, a great American, may God bless and keep him!

More information about Col Millett can be found at:


Photogallery

(Click a picture for a larger view)


Group w/Curley
in KWVA cap

Ceremony, Hill 180 in background

Color Guard

ROK Air force Band

Hill 180

Curley Knepp in center

Ken Swierzewski, Commander, VFW District III Korea; Dave Teets, Commander, VFW Department of Pacific Areas (State level); Curley Knepp; Colonel Ross E. Ridge, Chief of Staff, 2nd Infantry Division

Hill 180 re-enactors
 

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