Lewis Lee “Red” Millett Snr MOH

b. 15/12/1920 Mechanic Falls, Maine. d. 14/11/2009 Idyllwild, California.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 07/02/1951 vicinity of Hill 280, Soam-ni, Korea.

Lewis L Millett MOH

Millett was born December 15, 1920, in Mechanic Falls, Maine. His parents, George and Elsie, divorced when he was a toddler, so he moved with his mother to Dartmouth, Massachusetts, at a young age. He had a brother, Albert, and three sisters, Alice, Ellen and Marion. Millett grew up hearing stories about his grandfather, who served in the Civil War, and his uncle, who served during World War I. Those stories of leadership led him to become the vice president of his senior class and a National Guard member while he was still in high school.

By the time Millett graduated in 1940, war had broken out in Europe. He wanted to serve, so he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. But after a few months, Millett didn’t think the U.S. was ever going to join the war. He was so eager to fight that he left the Army to join the Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment, which had joined the war on the side of the Allies.  Millett went through that unit’s training, but by the time he was sent to Europe, the attacks on Pearl Harbor had happened, leading the U.S. to enter the war. So, while serving in London as a radar operator for Canada, Millett turned himself in to the U.S. Embassy. Officials put him back in the U.S. Army and assigned him to the 1st Armored Division.

Millett was eventually sent to fight in North Africa as an antitank gunner. While in Tunisia, he earned the Silver Star for saving several Allied soldiers. During the incident, Millet saw a burning halftrack that was likely going to blow up. The halftrack – a truck with wheels in the front and tank-like tread in the back – was filled with ammunition, so Millett jumped into it and drove it away from the other soldiers. He managed to jump to safety just before it exploded. On another occasion, Millett also shot down a German fighter plane using a vehicle-mounted machine gun.

By the time Millett got to Italy, though, his desertion to join the Canadian forces finally caught up to him. He was court martialed and convicted, which led to a $52 fine and the denial of leave.  “He didn’t give a hoot about the leave privileges because he wasn’t going anyway, but he was a little annoyed about the 52 bucks,” Millett’s brother, Albert, told the Boston Globe in 2009. “They told him they had to do that so they could promote him.” A few weeks later, Millett earned a battlefield commission.

After the war, Millett joined the 103rd Infantry of the Maine National Guard. At some point he married a woman named Virginia Young, but that ended in divorce, Millett’s Boston Globe obituary said. As a civilian, he went to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, for about three years. But by 1949, he was called back to active duty.  Millett was eventually sent to Korea with the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division. It was during a pivotal assault that became known as the Battle of Bayonet Hill where Millett earned his Medal of Honor.

In early February 1951, Millett led Company E through a rice paddy into an attack against a well-fortified enemy position around Hill 180 near Soam-Ni, Korea. After two days of fighting, Millett and his men were eventually pushed back down to the base of the hill.  On February 7, one of the company’s platoons got pinned down by heavy fire. Millett knew they had to get to higher ground. He also had read a translated enemy report that claimed U.S. troops weren’t willing to engage in close combat, and that was something he wanted to prove wrong. So, Millett ordered the other two platoons forward and, putting himself at the head of the charge, fixed his bayonet onto his rifle. He then ordered everyone to do the same and follow him up the hill in a close-combat assault that became the last major American bayonet charge in military history.

During the fierce fight, Millett stabbed two enemy soldiers with his bayonet, threw a bunch of grenades, then clubbed and bayonetted his way through more enemy fighters as he urged his men forward. According to a 2019 article written by the 51st Fighter Wing’s public affairs unit, since Millett was leading the charge, he had to dodge enemy and friendly grenades. He managed to avoid eight of them, but a ninth injured him, leaving shrapnel in his legs and back.

Eventually, the U.S. platoons fought their way to the top of the hill. As the enemy fled, Millett signaled to his men that they’d made it. The skirmish led to the deaths of nine friendly fighters and about 100 enemy soldiers. Millett refused to be evacuated for his wounds until the hill was firmly secured.

For his bravery and leadership, Millett received the Medal of Honor on July 5, 1951, from President Harry S. Truman during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. Three other Korean War soldiers — Col. Raymond Harvey, Master Sgt. Stanley Adams and Sgt. Einar Ingman — also received the high honor that day. During the festivities surrounding the ceremony, Millett met a woman named Winona Williams. They eventually married and had four kids: Lewis Jr., Timothy, Elizabeth and John, the latter of whom joined the service, too, but died alongside 255 other soldiers who were killed in an airplane crash in 1985.

Meanwhile, Millett continued with his military career. He went to Ranger School and eventually ran a 101st Airborne Division school for reconnaissance training. He served in several special operations advisory assignments overseas during the Vietnam War and even helped found the Royal Thai Army Ranger School.

Millett finally retired from the Army in 1973. He then went on to serve for more than 15 years as the honorary colonel of the 27th Infantry Regiment Association.

Millett’s later life was spent living in Idyllwild, California. Even though he was retired, he remained active in the veteran community and with units at March Air Reserve Base. In June 2000, Millett was one of eight Korean War veterans who returned to South Korea to serve as keynote speaker at the Army’s 225th Birthday Ball. One of his last acts of service was as grand marshal of a Salute to Veterans parade in April 2009 in Riverside, California.

Millett died November 14, 2009, from congestive heart failure as he got treatment at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. The 88-year-old was then buried at Riverside National Cemetery near its Medal of Honor Memorial.



Capt. Millett, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position, he noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire. Capt. Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the two platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge Capt. Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement. Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. 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 this fierce onslaught Capt. Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Capt. Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.