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One year ago: Lewis Millett

November 14, 2010 |  6:00 am


Retired Army Col. Lewis Millett, a veteran of three wars and a Medal of Honor recipient, loved his country and was eager to fight. So eager, in fact, that in 1941 he deserted the U.S. Army and joined the Canadians when the United States delayed joining World War II. He died one year ago today.

"I must be the only Regular Army colonel who has ever been court-martialed and convicted of desertion," Millett told, speaking about the minor punishment and subsequent promotions he received after he rejoined the Army and his brief desertion was investigated.

The Army's quick forgiveness paid off. Millett went on to fight in Korea, where he led a bayonet charge up a ridge known as Hill 180 that earned him the Medal of Honor.

The charge, in which he personally stabbed two enemy soldiers, was called by historian S.L.A. Marshall "the most complete bayonet charge by American troops since Cold Harbor," an 1864 Civil War battle.

In his 31-year career, which also included service in Vietnam, Millett was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts and three Air Medals in addition to his Medal of Honor.

"The man was born 170 years probably too late for his liking; there is zero question in my mind he would have been one of the original Sons of Liberty," said Mike Goldware, who was chairman of the committee that built the National Medal of Honor Memorial at Riverside National Cemetery in 1999.

For more, read Lewis Millett's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Lewis Millett at Wheeler Army Air Field in Hawaii during a 50th anniversary ceremony commemorating the end of World War II.

Credit: Associated Press