The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom

Staff Sergeant

United States Marine Corps

Lewis Watkins



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Guide of a Rifle Platoon of Company I, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea during the hours of darkness on the morning of 7 October 1952. With his platoon assigned the mission of re-taking an outpost which had been overrun by the enemy earlier in the night, Staff Sergeant Watkins skillfully led his unit in the assault up the designated hill. Although painfully wounded when a well-entrenched hostile force at the crest of the hill engaged the platoon with intense small-arms and grenade fire, he gallantly continued to lead his men. Obtaining an automatic rifle from one of the wounded men, he assisted in pinning down an enemy machine gun holding up the assault. When an enemy grenade landed among Staff Sergeant Watkins and several other Marines while they were moving forward through a trench on the hill crest, he immediately pushed his companions aside, placed himself in position to shield them and picked up the deadly missile in an attempt to throw it outside the trench. Mortally wounded when the grenade exploded in his hand, Staff Sergeant Watkins, by his great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, saved the lives of several of his comrades and contributed materially to the success of the mission. His extraordinary heroism, inspiring leadership and resolute spirit of self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

President of the United States

Staff Sergeant Lewis G. Watkins, of Seneca, South Carolina, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism in action in Korea. He sacrificed his life to save the Marines under his command.

His parents received notification that their son had been awarded the Nation's highest decoration in a letter from Gen Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps.

On 7 October 1952, SSgt Watkins' platoon was assigned to retake an outpost from the enemy. Although wounded in the fight, he placed automatic fire on the enemy machine gun position holding up the assault. When an enemy grenade landed among his men, he shoved them aside, picked up the grenade, and attempted to throw it at the enemy. The grenade exploded in his hand and wounded him mortally.

Lewis George Watkins was born 6 June 1925 in Seneca, South Carolina, and graduated from Greenville (South Carolina) High School in 1949. He was a member of the Greenville Police Department when he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 12 September 1950. After training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he served at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California, before going to Korea.

His decorations include: the Purple Heart Medal; Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars; and the United Nations Service Medal.

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