Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Aquilla James "big red" Dyess

  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    1st Battalion, 24th Marines,
    4th Marine Division (Rein)
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: February 1 - 2, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines (Rein), 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1 and 2 February 1944. Undaunted by severe fire from automatic Japanese weapons, Lt. Col. Dyess launched a powerful final attack on the second day of the assault, unhesitatingly posting himself between the opposing lines to point out objectives and avenues of approach and personally leading the advancing troops. Alert and determined to quicken the pace of the offensive against increased enemy fire, he was constantly at the head of advance units, inspiring his men to push forward until the Japanese had been driven back to a small center of resistance and victory assured. While standing on the parapet of the antitank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last enemy position, Lt. Col. Dyess was killed by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire. His daring and forceful leadership and his valiant fighting spirit in the face of terrific opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medal of Honor Recipient Aquilla James  "big red" Dyess
Medal of Honor Recipient Aquilla James "big red" Dyess
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Georgia
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details:

    Augusta, Georgia - Presented by Lt. Col. Weedon Barr to his Wife Mrs. Connor Dyess at her home.

  • Born: January 11, 1909, Augusta, Richmond County, GA, United States
  • Died: February 2, 1944, Namur Island, Marshall Islands
  • Buried: Westover Memorial Park (PM) (D-5), Augusta, GA, United States

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