Llewellyn Chilson

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Llewellyn Morris Chilson
Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson.jpg
Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson, U.S. Army
Nickname(s) "Al"
Born (1920-04-01)April 1, 1920
Dayton, Ohio
Died October 2, 1981(1981-10-02) (aged 61)
Tampa, Florida (while on vacation from Puyallup, Washington)
Buried at Mountain View Memorial Park,
Lakewood, Washington
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1942-1964
Rank Master Sergeant
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross (3)
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (2) with "v" Device
Army Commendation Medal
Purple Heart (3)
Combat Infantryman Badge

Llewellyn Morris Chilson (April 1, 1920 – October 2, 1981) was an American and United States Army master sergeant. He was one of the most decorated U.S. Army infantry soldiers in World War II. He received twelve individual decorations for combat from the Army including three Distinguished Service Crosses, three Silver Stars, and three Purple Hearts. The President of the United States personally decorated Chilson with seven individual decorations for combat after the war.[1]

Early years[edit]

Llewellyn Chilson was born on April 1, 1920 in Dayton, Ohio. He was the second son of Frank and Goldia Chilson, his father a World War I veteran. The family moved to Akron, Ohio where his father worked as a bus driver. In 1930, his mother was struck and killed by a truck in front of their home.[2] Chilson grew up on the rough streets of South Akron. He left South High School at age 16, taking a truck driving job hauling freight across the country. His older brother, Staff Sergeant Alvin M. Chilson, was killed in action serving with the 37th Infantry Division in the Philippines on February 16, 1945.[3][4]

U.S. Army career[edit]

World War II[edit]

Chilson was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 28, 1942 during World War II. He reported to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana for his basic training. After basic training, he was transferred to Camp Livingston, Louisiana for more training and then to Camp Johnson, Florida for amphibious training with the 112th Infantry Regiment. He was transferred to Fort Pickett, Virginia and the 45th Infantry Division ("Thunderbirds") in May 1942 and became a member of Anti-Tank Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment.

North Africa (Mediterranean Theater)[edit]

Chilson and his unit landed in Oran, Algeria on June 22, 1943 and prepared for the Invasion of Sicily (July 10, 1943).


During the Sicily campaign, Chilson received the Combat Infantryman Badge (later awarded the Bronze Star Medal based on award of the CIB) for combat actions on July 11 to 31, 1943.[5] In February 1944, the 45th Division reinforced the beachhead at Anzio. He received a Purple Heart for being wounded by shrapnel near Carroceto, Italy on February 15, 1944.[6] On February 16, near Aprilia, Italy, he and three other American soldiers were captured by German soldiers after running out of ammunition in a firefight and were made litter-bearers for the German forces. The four American soldiers managed to escape on February 17, taking 4 enemy prisoners with them. This then led to the capture of 40 enemy soldiers by Chilson. He was awarded a Silver Star.[6][7][8]

Southern France (European Theater)[edit]

Chilson participated in the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon) on August 15, 1944. He was transferred to Company "G", 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry. On October 28, he managed to capture a hill taking 25 enemy prisoners. He was awarded a second Silver Star (bronze oak leaf cluster) for actions near Denshein, France on November 26, 1944.[6]

Northern France[edit]

Chilson was recommended for the Medal of Honor by his platoon leader for defending an indefensible position near Gumbrechtshoffen, France on November 30, 1944. On December 27, he became the platoon sergeant of Second Platoon, Company G.


Chilson was again recommended for the Medal of Honor for a series of heroic actions in Germany from March 26–31, 1945. This included his taking over 200 enemy prisoners. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross (for actions on March 26), a third Silver Star (2nd bronze oak leaf cluster), a Legion of Merit, and a Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device for these actions.[6]

He was also awarded a second and third Distinguished Service Cross (1st and 2nd bronze oak leaf cluster) for his actions on April 25 and 27, and a Purple Heart (2nd bronze oak leaf cluster) for his wounds received on April 26, near Neuberg.[6]


At the end of April 1945, Chilson was sent to and hospitalized in Stockbridge, England at the U.S. Army's 34th General Hospital stationed there. While hospitalized, he met a U.S. Army nurse named Mary Armstrong, whom he married later that year.

United States (American Theater)[edit]

He returned to Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana in June 1945. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on June 30, 1946.[8]

Post World War II[edit]

President Harry Truman personally decorated former T/Sgt. Llewellyn Chilson with seven individual combat decorations (six for valor) at a White House ceremony in the presence of Chilson's wife, baby daughter, and parents on December 6, 1946.[9] Truman said, "This is the most remarkable list of citations I have ever seen. For any one of these, this young man is entitled to all the Country has to offer. These ought to be worth a Medal of Honor---that's what I think about it."[4] Chilson had been recommended for the Medal of Honor, which was approved by General Joseph T. McNarney, the commanding general of the U.S. Forces in the European Theater. However, the War Department found Chilson's actions commendable, but not worthy of the Medal of Honor.[10]

Chilson re-enlisted into the U.S. Army on November 17, 1947. He waived his 40% disability and became an Army Recruiter. In 1952, Chilson was sent to Fort Hood to help train National Guardsman and met legendary soldier, Audie Murphy.[11] Chilson was considered to be the second most decorated soldier of World War II by the National Guard Association.[12] On May 24, 1961, Chilson was one of only four survivors of the crash of a USAF Douglas C-124A Globemaster II that killed 24.[13]

He retired from the U.S. Army as a Master Sergeant in 1964.

Post army career and death[edit]

Chilson lived in Tacoma, Washington after he retired from the army where he managed a gas station and was a taxi cab driver. He later moved to Puyallup, Washington.

Chilson died at age 61 on October 2, 1981 while on vacation in Tampa, Florida. He is buried in the veterans section at Mountain View Memorial Park in Lakewood, Washington (Lakewood was incorporated in 1996) and is honored with a memorial dedicated to him.[14]

Military decorations and awards[edit]

Llewellyn Chilson's military awards include twelve individual decorations for combat he received from the U.S. Army for World War II: three Distinguished Service Crosses, three Silver Stars, one Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars (one for heroism), and three Purple Hearts.[15] Seven of the twelve individual decorations are combat decorations for valor and appears to be the most number of individual combat decorations for valor awarded to an infantryman by the U.S. Army for World War II.

Chilson received the following military awards:

Combat Infantry Badge.svg   Combat Infantryman Badge
ArmyQualExpert.JPG Expert Badge with Rifle Bar
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Cross with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal with One Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and "V" Device
Army Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Presidential Unit Citation
Prisoner of War Medal
Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One 316 Silver Star, Three 316 Bronze Stars, and Arrowhead Device
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with One 316 Bronze Star
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
(Unit Award)
French Liberation Medal

Personal awards and honors[edit]

Chilson's personal awards and honors include:


  1. ^ "One-man army: Akron WWII hero collected more medals in one day than any other U.S. soldier". Akron Beacon Journal
  2. ^ Find A Grave, Goldia Mae Lake Chilson [1] Retrieved March 27, 2016
  3. ^ Find A Grave, Sgt Alvin M. "Al" Chilson [2] Retrieved March 27, 2016
  4. ^ a b Dorr, Robert F. "Duty, Honor, Country Army heroes: Chilson's valor in 1945 earned seven awards". Army Times. Ganett Corporation. Retrieved 10 September 2012.  External link in |work= (help)
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ a b c d e "Llewellyn Chilson Awards and Citations". ww2 awards. Retrieved 24 May 2013.  External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ Pfc Chilson photo: 20 Feb., 1944: Signal Corps photo National Archives
  8. ^ a b "Llewellyn M. Chilson Awards and Citations". Military Times. Gannet Corporation. Retrieved 10 September 2012.  External link in |work= (help)
  9. ^ "The most decorated soldier of WWII ... Sgt. Llewellyn M. Chison" on YouTube, June 1, 2007: Movietone News, 1946, "President Truman Awards 7 Medals To Hero Soldier". Retrieved, 12/29/2013.
  10. ^ Borch, Fred L. Dorr, Robert F. "Llewellyn Chilson: America's Neglected Warrior". Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "The National Guardsman" magazine by the National Guardsman Association of the United States, 1952, Vol. 6, p. 130, "Top War Heroes Train Guard", Chilson joins Audie Murphy at Fort Hood, Texas. Retrieved 12/29/2013
  12. ^ National Guard Association of the United States (1952). "The National Guardsman, Volume 6": 130. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  13. ^ McClary, Daryl C. (April 29, 2008). "HistoryLink Essay: U.S. Air Force C-124A Globemaster II crashes near McChord Air Force Base on May 24, 1961.". Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  14. ^ Find A Grave. Llewellyn M. Chilson [4] [5] Retrieved March 27, 2016
  15. ^ [6] Army Regulation, Military Awards 11 Dec. 2006: Chapter 3, US Army individual Decorations, p. 36-37, 3-2 / Section II, Individual Department of Defense Decorations (Purple Heart), p. 20. 2-8
  16. ^ Ohio Medal of Valor, 2006
  17. ^ Ohio Military Hall of Fame, 2006
  18. ^ Washington State VA, Washington Soldiers Home Orting
  19. ^ History of Washington Soldiers Home, 1891-1991, Llewellyn Chilson (Chilson Hall dedication), page 24, [7]
  20. ^ Military Order of the Purple Heart, Llewellyn M. Chilson Chapter 407
  • World War II magazine, April 2006. One Man Army: Forgotten Hero Llewellyn Chilson. Above, Beyond, and Forgotten by Fred Borch/Robert Dorr. Pages 26–32.

External links[edit]