The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
AQUILLA J. DYESS
United States Marine Corps Reserve
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer, of the First Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines, Reinforced, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, February 1 and 2, 1944. Undaunted by severe fire from automatic Japanese weapons, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess launched a powerful final attack on the second day of the assault , unhesitatingly posting himself between the opposing lines to point out objectives and avenues of approach and personally leading the advancing troops. Alert, and determined to quicken the pace of the offensive against increased enemy fire, he was constantly at the head of the advance units, inspiring his men to push forward until the Japanese had been driven back to a small center of resistance and victory assured. While standing of the parapet of an antitank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last enemy position, Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was killed by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire. His daring and forceful leadership and his valiant fighting spirit in the face of terrific opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
Lieutenant Colonel Aquilla James Dyess, was was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" at the head of his troops on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 2 February 1944, was born on 11 January 1909 in Andersonville, Georgia. He graduated from Clemson College, Clemson, South Carolina, in 1932 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture. At Clemson, he served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Army Infantry Reserve in 1931. He was appointed a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve in November 1936.
In 1937, 1stLt Dyess was awarded the Bronze Medal as a shooting member of the Marine Corps Rifle Team which won the Hilton trophy in the National matches, and was given the same award in 1938 as an alternate member of the team that captured the Rattlesnake trophy in the matches.
In civilian life, he was a general contractor. He also served as assistant director of a summer camp for boys. As a youth, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout, highest in the Scout movement.
Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was killed on 2 February 1944 by a burst of enemy machine gun fire while standing on the parapet of an anti-tank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last Japanese position in the northern part of Namur island. In this final assault, LtCol Dyess posted himself between the opposing lines and, exposed to fire from heavy automatic weapons, led his troops in the advance. Wherever the attack was slowed by heavier enemy fire, he quickly appeared and placed himself at the head of his men and inspired them to push forward.
Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was initially buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Later, in 1948, he was reinterred in Westover Memorial Park Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.