Llewellyn Chilson

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Llewellyn Morris Chilson
Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson.jpg
Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson, U.S. Army
Born(1920-04-01)April 1, 1920
Dayton, Ohio, United States
DiedOctober 2, 1981(1981-10-02) (aged 61)
Tampa, Florida, United States
Mountain View Memorial Park,
Lakewood, Washington
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1942–1946
RankMaster Sergeant
Battles/warsWorld War II
Battle of Anzio
AwardsDistinguished 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 a United States Army master sergeant and one of the most decorated American soldiers of World War II. He received twelve individual decorations for combat from the U.S. Army including seven decorations for valor. After the war, the President of the United States personally decorated Chilson with seven decorations including three Distinguished Services Crosses for extraordinary heroism in Germany.[1][2]

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. 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]

Military 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.[4] 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.[5] 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 four enemy prisoners with them. This then led to the capture of 40 enemy soldiers by Chilson. He was awarded a Silver Star.[5][6][7]

Southern France (European Theater)[edit]

Chilson participated in the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon) on August 15, 1944. He was transferred to Second Platoon, 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.[5]

Northern France[edit]

Chilson was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Lt. William M. Owens,[8] Second Platoon leader, for defending an indefensible position at Mulhausen near Gumbrechtshoffen, France on November 30, 1944.[9] 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.[5]

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.[5]


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.[7]


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.[10] 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."[3] 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.[1]

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.

Later years 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.

Military awards[edit]

Chilson's military awards and decorations 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 Star Medals (one for heroism), and three Purple Hearts.[14] Seven of the twelve medals are decorations for valor.

Chilson received the following military awards and decorations:

U.S. Awards & Decorations
Personal decorations
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 "V" Device and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
  Purple Heart with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
  Army Commendation Medal
Unit awards
  Army Presidential Unit Citation
Campaign & Service awards
  Prisoner of War Medal[15]
  Army Good Conduct Medal
  American Campaign Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
  European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Device, one 316" Silver Star, and three 316" Bronze Stars
  World War II Victory Medal
  Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze star
  National Defense Service Medal with one 316 Bronze Star
Badges and tabs
Combat Infantry Badge.svg  Combat Infantryman Badge
US Army Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge-Generic.png  Expert Badge with Rifle Bar
Foreign Awards & Decorations
Unit awards
French Croix de Guerre with Palm[16][17] (Unit Citation)

Personal awards and honors[edit]

Chilson's personal awards and honors include:



  1. ^ a b Borch, Fred L. Dorr, Robert F. "Llewellyn Chilson: America's Neglected Warrior". Retrieved 20 March 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "One-man army: Akron WWII hero collected more medals in one day than any other U.S. soldier". Akron Beacon Journal
  3. ^ a b Dorr, Robert F. "Duty, Honor, Country Army heroes: Chilson's valor in 1945 earned seven awards". Army Times. Gannett. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c d e "Llewellyn Chilson Awards and Citations". TracesOfWar.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  6. ^ Pfc Chilson photo: 20 Feb., 1944: Signal Corps photo National Archives
  7. ^ a b "Llewellyn M. Chilson Awards and Citations". militarytimes.com. Gannet Corporation. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  8. ^ Veterans History Project, William Millwee Owens, Jr. [2]
  9. ^ http://www.maggieblanck.com/Blanck/Service.html Section: "179th Infantry Regiment, The Story of a Regiment", statement by Danny Lehan in regard to Chilson.
  10. ^ President Truman Awards 7 Medals To Hero Soldier, Movietone News, 1946, retrieved December 29, 2013 – via youtube.
  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. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ McClary, Daryl C. (February 22, 2012). "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. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-06-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) 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
  15. ^ Pfc Chilson photo/caption: ... He had just escaped from being a prisoner of the Germans. 20 Feb., 1944: Signal Corps photo National Archives
  16. ^ "Department of the Army Pamphlet 672-1" (PDF). Awarded to 45th Infantry Division for the period 1–31 January 1944/ Department of the Army General Order 43-50 (GO 43, 1950)
  17. ^ French Decision No. 843, 21 June 1945, victory at Acquafondata (Italy).
  18. ^ Ohio Medal of Valor, 2006
  19. ^ Ohio Military Hall of Fame, 2006
  20. ^ Washington State VA, Washington Soldiers Home Orting
  21. ^ History of Washington Soldiers Home, 1891-1991, Llewellyn Chilson (Chilson Hall dedication), page 24, [3]
  22. ^ Military Order of the Purple Heart, Llewellyn M. Chilson Chapter 407 [4]


  • World War II magazine, April 2006. One Man Army: Forgotten Hero Llewellyn Chilson. Above, Beyond, and Forgotten by Fred Borch/Robert Dorr. pp. 26–32.

External links[edit]