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Lewis George Watkins
Lewis G. Watkins, posthumous Medal of Honor recipient
Born 1925
Died October 7, 1952 (aged 26–27)
Place of birth Seneca, South Carolina
Place of death KIA in Korea
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1950-1952
Rank Staff Sergeant
Unit 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Other work Greenville Police Department

Staff Sergeant Lewis George Watkins (June 6, 1925 – October 7, 1952) was a United States Marine who sacrificed his life to save the lives of fellow Marines under his command and to contribute to the success of his unit's mission during the Korean War. For his actions on October 7, 1952, Watkins posthumously received the Medal of Honor.


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

On October 7, 1952, Sergeant 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.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Watkins of Seneca, South Carolina, received notification that their son had been awarded the nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, in a letter from General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Watkins family later donated the medal to the Patriot's Hall Veterans Museum in Walhalla, South Carolina. Lewis Watkins is Oconee County's only Medal of Honor recipient.[1]


In addition to the Medal of Honor, Watkins decorations include: the Purple Heart; Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars; and the United Nations Service Medal.

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Purple Heart BAR.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
United Nations Service Medal Korea.png
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Korean Service Medal with one bronze star United Nations Service Medal

Medal of Honor citationEdit

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to


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, in action against enemy aggressor forces during the hours of darkness on the morning of October 7, 1952. With his platoon assigned the mission of retaking an outpost which had been overrun by the enemy earlier in the night, S/Sgt. 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 a 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 U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

See alsoEdit


  1. Chandler, Ray (January 23, 2010). "Walhalla veterans museum earns state heritage corridor designation". Anderson, South Carolina. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010. 
PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

External linksEdit

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