Apr 23 , 2023
The Unstoppable Marine who Avenged the “Day of Infamy”
On hearing President Roosevelt’s declaration of war in December 1941, Alabama native, Harold Edward Wilson, was unequivocal that he "had to avenge the 'Day of Infamy'”.
To that end, he joined the one service branch he knew would be used as the spearhead against the enemy – The United States Marines.
Assigned to active duty in April 1942, he spent the next two and half years battling the Japanese, distinguishing himself in actions fought across the Pacific, and earning promotion to sergeant for his leadership.
Honorably discharged in October 1945, Harold re-entered the Corps in 1947 and, by the fall of 1950, was on the frontline in Korea with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.
Having survived General MacArthur’s amphibious landing at Wŏnsan – and the ferocious battle for the Chosin Reservoir – he was later deployed to a defensive position designated “Hill 902”, where, on the night of this day in 1951, Chinese soldiers attacked in their tens of thousands.
Outnumbered and outgunned, one of his company’s frontal outposts fell to the Chinese early on, thus enabling the latter to turn their artillery and mortars on Harrold and his platoon.
Pinned down by the barrage, he ordered his men to their hastily-constructed fox holes, from where, they unleashed a storm of lead that brought the oncoming Chinese down in their droves.
Then, as Harold braved intense gunfire to help fallen comrades, he himself was struck by bullets to his left leg and right arm, knocking him off his feet, leaving him bleeding profusely, and struggling to stay conscious.
Even so, still, he succeeded in reaching and evacuating his wounded Marines single-handed, and, upon returning to those holding the line, still, he continued to issue words of encouragement, imploring them to “give no quarter”, and to remember, “Marines don’t surrender!”
As the offensive intensified, Harold was hit twice more – once to the head, and once to his shoulder – but still, he fought on.
Only when reinforcements arrived the following morning, did he agree to be treated for his wounds, but not before he’d accounted for every single one of his men, and only if they agreed to one condition – that he walk back alone and unassisted to his unit’s medical aid station.
Soon after his remarkable recovery, he was promoted to master sergeant and, at a ceremony held in April 1952, was awarded the Medal of Honor for the “outstanding courage” he demonstrated while battling to hold Hill 902.
Commissioned as a Chief Warrant Officer in August of the same year, he dedicated another two decades of his life to the Marine Corps – serving with distinction at home and in Vietnam – before then passing away from Cancer aged 76 in 1998.
Modest man that he was, Harold seldom spoke of his awe-inspiring accomplishments.
Indeed, according to his son, Harold Jr., when he paid tribute to his father:
“Dad never did say much; but, one thing he always said was, wherever he went, he just did what had to be done.”
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I was on active duty in the Marine Corps from 1955 to 1959 and knew many WWII and Korean War heroes. Wish I had met CWO Wilson. As far as I know, I never met a CoH recipient. I probably wouldn’t have been able to speak.
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WW II and Korea, what a Legacy. Thankfully he missed most of the decline of America since 1998.
Great Story. My dad served during the Korean War.
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