Veterans Day – Thank You For Your Service, Llewellyn Morris Chilson

Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson November 9, 2018 07:41

Veterans Day – Thank You For Your Service, Llewellyn Morris Chilson

This coming Veterans Day the nation will honor the service of the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Every one of those veterans deserves our respect, but there are some who stand out even in such a distinguished crowd. These are people whose service went above and beyond what was expected of them, and earned them the title of heroes.

Some heroes, like Audie Murphy, are household names, and so they should be, but our other heroes deserve some attention too. Sadly, there are too many of them for us to do even a fraction of them justice here, but we thought, for Veterans Day, we’d highlight one of the soldiers who helped make America great and keep it that way.

There’s an old saying that nobody remembers who won the silver medal. That’s unfair enough in sports, where the silver medal goes to someone who’s beaten all but one of their competitors. How much more unfair is it when we’re talking about bravery in combat? But, unfair or not, it works the same way there. The reason Audie Murphy is a household name is that he’s believed to be the most decorated man ever to put on a US Army uniform. But who’s ever heard of Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson, the second most decorated man?

History Of A Hero

Veterans Day - Thank You For Your Service, Llewellyn Morris ChilsonLlewellyn Morris Chilson was born on April 1, 1920 in Dayton, Ohio. His father, Frank Chilson, had served in the US Army during the First World War; after Germany’s defeat he returned to Dayton, then after the birth of his son moved to Akron where he took a job driving buses.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Llewellyn Chilson was just ten years old; his mother Goldia was run down and killed by a truck just outside the family home. By this time, the Great Depression was in full swing and money was tight. Even if his father had wanted to spend less time at work, and more with his son, jobs were hard to find and nobody was going to give one up. So while Frank kept driving buses, the young Chilson was left alone for much of his childhood. He grew up on Akron’s rough, poverty-stricken streets, which at the time were dominated by gangs and made even more dangerous by desperate transients searching for money or food.

Aged 16, Chilson quit high school and took a job as an interstate truck driver. He worked at that for the next five years, until the USA joined the Second World War. Applying weeks into the war, Chilson was enlisted in the US Army on March 28, 1942. He went through basic training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, then advanced infantry and amphibious training at Camp Livingston, Louisiana and Camp Johnson, Florida. In May he was posted to the anti-tank company of 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, part of the 45th “Thunderbirds” Infantry Division.

In mid-1943 the 45th Infantry was sent to Algeria to prepare for the invasion of Sicily. This operation was a strategic success that opened the way for the invasion of Italy itself and caused the fall of Italy’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. On the other hand, it was a tough fight against veteran opponents. The US, British and Canadian invasion forces were well-trained and equipped, but apart from the British troops who’d fought in North Africa few of them had as much experience as their German adversaries.Veterans Day - Thank You For Your Service, Llewellyn Morris ChilsonAfter the fall of Sicily, the Allies landed on mainland Italy and began advancing to the north, but it was a grinding slog against a tough and determined German defense. In a bid to speed up the process, 36,000 Allied troops were landed at Anzio on January 22, 1944. Unfortunately, the commander of the landing force didn’t push aggressively enough and was soon encircled by German reserves. To break out and drive to Rome a second wave of reinforcements had to be landed in early February, and one of them was Llewellyn Chilson. It wasn’t long before the anti-tank company was caught in heavy fighting against German panzers, and on February 15 Chilson was lightly wounded by shrapnel from an enemy shell.

Mid-February wasn’t a great time for Chilson. The day after he was wounded, he and three comrades ran out of ammunition during a German counterattack and were captured. The Germans put them to work as stretcher bearers; next day they escaped, taking four Germans prisoner in turn. Chilson then managed to capture another 40 Germans, a feat that earned him a Silver Star.

Chilson missed out on the D-Day landings; instead, his division was moved from Italy in August and landed on the south coast of France. Chilson himself was moved from the anti-tank company to an infantry company in the same battalion. On October 28 he led a successful attack on an enemy-held hill, capturing 25 more Germans and winning a second Silver Star,

On November 30, Chilson was recommended for the Medal of Honor after he defended a seemingly hopeless position from German counterattacks. While he didn’t get the award, he was promoted to platoon sergeant.

Four months later Chilson took part in the invasion of Germany itself, blazing a trail of glory into the heart of the collapsing Reich. In one incident he destroyed six German guns and vehicles, moving from one to the next by the light of the fires he’d started, and helped clear the way for the Allies to cross the Rhine.

By the time that fight was over Chilson’s platoon had captured more than 200 German soldiers and an entire town. Two weeks later, in the middle of a firefight he climbed onto a tank’s turret and spotted targets for its gunner despite heavy German fire aimed at the tank.

Again, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor and again he didn’t get it. He did get three separate awards of the Distinguished Service Cross, America’s second-highest valor award, for his actions between March 21 and April 27.

Veterans Day - Thank You For Your Service, Llewellyn Morris Chilson

Chilson’s luck finally ran out on April 26, when he was wounded near Neuberg. Although he stayed in the line and kept fighting for another couple of days, he was evacuated back to a military hospital in the UK at the end of April. That was the end of his part in the war.

While in hospital, Chilson met Mary Armstrong, an US Army nurse.

Medic and patient soon fell in love and were married later that year.

Before then Chilson was back in the USA, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, where he was honorably discharged from the US Army on June 30, 1946.

With the war over the Army started playing catchup, making sure its men received the medals they’d been awarded during the fighting.

Veterans Day - Thank You For Your Service, Llewellyn Morris Chilson

Chilson’s list of awards – three DSCs, three Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Army Commendation Medal and three Purple Hearts – was impressive enough that President Truman chose to present them personally at the White House.

In 1947 Chilson waived his disability pension and rejoined the Army as a recruiter. Later he survived a serious air crash, trained National Guardsmen and met Audie Murphy.

He finally retired as a Master Sergeant in 1964.

After finishing his long and distinguished service, Chilson moved to Tacoma, Washington where he managed a gas station and drove a cab. As his father had done, he simply came home from the Army and went back to work, serving his community as he’d served his country.

Llewellyn Chilson died suddenly while on vacation in Tampa, Florida on October 2, 1981. He was buried in the veterans’ section of the Lakewood, WA cemetery, which now features a memorial to this remarkable man – this ordinary American who answered his country’s call, fought bravely and well, then came home and returned to a modest but worthwhile life.

Master Sergeant Llewellyn Morris Chilson, US Army – thank you for your service.

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Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson November 9, 2018 07:41
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  1. left coast chuck November 9, 15:51

    An inspiring story. Those men truly were the Greatest Generation.

    A somewhat similar story, a janitor working at the Air Force Academy was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He lead a quiet unassuming life and no one at that school knew he was a CMH recipient until one student made a connection between something he had been reading and the unassuming janitor making his rounds at the school.

    So many served in horrific combat, came home and just picked up with their lives and went on, raising families and working hard at making the U.S.

    While I had the honor of serving with many of the Marines who survived WWII in the Pacific and the bitter battles of Korea, I was too callow to fully appreciate their service at the time. A big regret is that I allowed that opportunity to profit from their experiences slip away. Too soon old; too late smart.

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  2. Wahila November 9, 17:16

    I was born on a Marine Base. My Father stood on the Shores of Cuba during the Crisis in 1962 1 month later he stood on the Shores of Viet Nam.
    My Family served this country with absolute distinction Uncle was a Marine Sniper my Cousin was put up for the Silver Star in the most recent conflict.
    I have known men like my friend who was on Okinawa and was bayonetted by a Japanese Soldier. He was only 15!
    But I have walked the V/A since I could walk
    I watched the haphazard treatment of those who have held nothing from this country
    Now with Liberals trying to wrest power I am afraid more of these men will not get the mental or physical help to meet their needs.
    People ask why did the thing happen in Thousand Oaks California?
    It reall is a matter of PTSD.
    Yet these men of the greatest representatives of Patriotic duty were left to die by the former administration while waiting for treatment.
    Here is my suggestion
    On this Veteran Appreciation Day
    Sit down write your Congressman or Women and deman the V/A be reorganized Demand they take the Vets DD214 and make it a credit card.
    You go anywhere anytime to anybody and see them for treatment. And we the people of the United States of America will pay it in full.
    After all they are not welfare recipients they are not illegals of which the left is ready willing and wantin disregard will pay for their medical and welfare.
    They are the fighting men and women who allow us all to live in relative peace and freedom.
    So take action make action and make a difference.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Prepper In Training November 9, 18:15

    I was fortunate to have served during peace time. I am thankful for all veterans that choose to protect our great nation and way of life. Whether during peace, war, or conflict, the potential for making the ultimate sacrifice is something no military person should endure.

    Among the unsung heroes, are sons, daughters, wives, husbands, parents and grandparents. These people have shown great kindness in allowing us to be protected by their precious loved one.

    It is funny how people want the government to take care of them, but then complain that the government and military are protecting them. I don’t always thank a vet, but I do always say a silent prayer for them. I just wish more people, especially the younger people, understood the potential sacrifice our military people may have to make in order to maintain great freedoms for ungrateful people.

    I cannot undo my service, and at times, I regret having ever joined. I can only hope that those protecting us now will not abandon the fight when it means the most. I would not blame them if they did, because one soldier’s life is worth more than 100 ungrateful snowflakes/antifa/liberal/politician. Those starting wars, or calling for war, should be required to spend time on the front lines fighting the war. Those condemning our military should lose the freedoms that our brave men and women safeguard.

    On this Veteran’s Day, do not thank me, because I got more than I gave; but DO thank those that gave all, or that are still protecting us. Those are the people I am proudest of!!


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    • left coast chuck November 10, 04:38

      I too served in “peace time” although I did spend from September of ’58 to April of ’59 on Taiwan with the Marines waiting for the Chinese to storm ashore. I know Marines are supposed to be really bad azzes but I don’t know what 1200 wing wipers and a reinforced Marine rifle company would have done faced with 100,000+ Chinese. That was why all the NCOs spent a couple of days learning how to drive all the vehicles we had, so that if the motor transport guys got taken out and the truck still ran, somebody could drive it. It was a welcome break to spend the day tooling around in a six by.

      I don’t regret one day of my service. I feel that I got far more out of the service than it got from me. I get set on the path to adulthood in the Corps. I learned about a profession that I practiced when I was released from active duty. I got to spend 3 1/2 years in the Far East, in Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan and a week in Hong Kong that I would have never experienced without the Marine Corps. I met the wonderful woman who has put up with me for 60 years whom I would have never met except for the Marine Corps and we have two fine adult children, thanks to her attention and rearing and three grandchildren of whom we are most proud and they wouldn’t be here if it were not for my Marine Corps service.

      No, I don’t regret one minute of the four years active and four years active reserve time I spent. The benefits to my life are too numerous to mention. I’m proud of the time I spent and would do it all over again, hopefully taking even more advantage of the opportunities presented to me by service in the U.S. Marine Corps, which, by the way, is celebrating its 243 anniversary tomorrow.

      Reply to this comment
  4. IvyMike November 9, 23:51

    MSG Chilson and Audie Murphy served in different Divisions but fought in most of the same engagements, gives you an idea of the intensity of the fighting that produced the two most decorated soldiers in our history. MSG Chilson never told his story but Murphy told every soldier’s story in his book To Hell And Back which is a thousand times better than the movie.
    My Dad was a Purple Heart vet of WW2, a wonderful man who taught me very few wars are worth fighting.
    Too soon old; too late smart. Truer words were never spoken.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Wannabe November 10, 01:33

    Okay, Veterans Day is for those who served and are still alive. Memorial Day is for those who served and have passed on. Just saying

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck November 10, 04:18

      Perhaps, but Armistice Day, the original November 11 commemoration was to be observed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I can remember in grade school, the day was not a holiday, but someone, probably a vet, played taps starting at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th of November each year and we had a moment of silence after taps faded away in remembrance of all those men who had lost their lives in the War to End All Wars.

      WWII was still touch and go at that time in ’43. By November 11 in ’44 we had landed in Europe and were on the march in the Pacific until December and the Battle of the Bulge. And, of course, in the Pacific, we still had the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa to face with their horrendous losses.

      It was only when Congress started having holidays to make three-day weekends that Armistice Day became Veterans Day. I really look forward to the day the 4th of July becomes Independence Day and is celebrated on the first Monday in July and Christmas becomes Winter Solstice Day and is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in December and New Years Day becomes New Dawning Day and is celebrated on the 1st Monday in January. I can hardly wait.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Grammyprepper November 10, 06:12

    I DO thank veterans and active military on a daily basis, when they come into sthe store I work in. And I thank all of YOU who follow this blog. My grandfather, FIL, uncle, served in WWII and Korea. My father would have gone to Vietnam, but was LEO instead, serving during the civil rights riots. If it weren’t for those that went before us, we wouldn’t still have the freedoms we still hold dear (even as they get beaten up by politics). Our veterans, past and present, have done and do so much for us, and get treated like crap in return. I agree with the previous poster that the VA system is in need of a major overhaul (I worked in civilian healthcare, and trying to get vets appropriate care was a nightmare, for the patients and for us healthcare providers).

    Reply to this comment
  7. Ched April 20, 15:36

    There are we should be a special way to be treating our veterans I do not know about this but I had friends that was in the war and they came back they was really messed up in the head this is what they told me daddy get drugs to keep them going jobs to keep them going in the night awenda come back there all messed up in the head

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