Llewellyn Morris Chilson
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army
Llewellyn Morris Chilson was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Chilson. He grew up on the rough streets of South Akron, OH. At age 16, he left South High School and got a job as a truck driver hauling freight across the United States. His father was a veteran of World War I and his older brother, Staff Sergeant Alvin M. Chilson, was killed in action in the Philippines on 22 February 1944.
On 28 March 1942, Chilson was inducted into the U.S. Army. He received his Basic Training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN, and his Advanced Individual Training at Camp Livingston, LA. He was then transferred to Camp Johnson, FL, for amphibious training with the 112th Infantry Regiment. In May 1942, he was assigned to Anti-Tank Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division ('Thunderbirds') at Fort Pickett, VA. Chilson and his unit landed in Oran, Algeria, on 22 June 1943 and prepared for the Invasion of Sicily, which took place on 10 July.
During the Sicily Campaign, Chilson received the Combat Infantryman Badge and later received the Bronze Star Medal based on his combat actions on 11-31 July. In February 1944, the 45th Division reinforced the beachhead at Anzio and Chilson received a Purple Heart after being wounded by shrapnel on 15 February. Chilson and three other American soldiers were captured by German soldiers on 16 February after running out of ammunition in a firefight near Aprilia, Italy. The four men were made litter-bearers for the German forces but managed to escape on 17 February, taking 4 enemy prisoners with them. Chilson then captured 40 enemy soldiers and was awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Chilson's unit then moved into the European Theater of Operations and participated in the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon) on 15 August 1944. He was transferred to G Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry. On 28 October, he managed to capture a hill and take 25 enemy prisoners. For his actions near Denshein, France, on 26 November 1944, Chilson was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Silver Star.
On 30 November 1944, Chilson was recommended for the Medal of Honor by his platoon leader for defending an indefensible position near Gumbrechtshoffen, France. On 27 December, he was designated the platoon sergeant of G Company's second Platoon.
Chilson was again recommended for the Medal of Honor for a series of his heroic actions in Germany from 26–31 March 1945. Those actions included his capturing more than 200 German prisoners. For these actions, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross; a 2nd Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Silver Star; a Legion of Merit; and a Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor Device. For his heroic actions on 25-26-27 April 1945, Chilson was awarded a 1st and 2nd Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Distinguished Service Cross and a 1st and 2nd Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Purple Heart.
Chilson was hospitalized for his wounds in England and then returned to Ft. Benjamin Harrison in June 1945. He was honorably discharged from the Army on 30 June 1946.
Presentation of Medals
On 6 December 1946, at a White House ceremony in the presence of Chilson's wife, baby daughter, and parents, President Harry Truman personally presented former Technical Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson with seven individual combat medals: Six of them were for valor. In making the presentation, 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."
In fact, the recommendation for Chilson's Medal of Honor had been approved by General Joseph T. McNarney, Commanding General of the U.S. Forces in the European Theater of Operations. However, although the War Department found Chilson's actions commendable, they said they were not worthy of the Medal of Honor.
Post-World War II Life
Chilson re-enlisted in the Army on 17 November 1947. He waived his 40% disability and became an Army Recruiter.
In 1952, Chilson was sent to Fort Hood, TX, to help train National Guardsman and there he met legendary soldier, Audie Murphy. The National Guard Association considered Chilson to be the second most decorated soldier of World War II.
On 24 May 1961, Chilson was one of only four survivors of the crash of a USAF Douglas C-124A Globemaster II that killed 24 passengers.
Master Sergeant Llewellyn Morris Chilson retired from the Army in 1964.
Medals, Awards & Badges
Distinguished Service Cross with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Silver Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Purple Heart with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Commendation Medal
Prisoner of War Medal
Good Conduct Medal
American Theater Campaign Medal
European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Silver Service Star, 3 Bronze Service Stars & Arrowhead Device
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
French Liberation Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Combat Infantryman Badge
Washington Soldiers Home, Chilson Recreation Center in Orting, Washington
Ohio Medal of Valor (2006)
Ohio Military Hall of Fame (2006)
Military Order of the Purple Heart, Llewellyn M. Chilson Chapter 407, Lakewood, Washington
After his retirement, Chilson lived in Tacoma, WA, where he managed a gas station and was a taxi cab driver until his death.
Death and Burial
Master Sergeant Llewellyn Morris Chilson died at age 61 on 10 October 1981. He is buried at Woodbine Cemetery, Puyallup, WA.