|Col. Lewis Lee Millett Sr.|
According to an article posted on June 10, 2011 in The Press-Enterprise, War hero’s medals stolen from storage unit:
The family of the late Col. Lewis Lee Millett Sr., who died in 2009 at age 88 and received the Medal of Honor, four Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver and Bronze stars, among others, is searching for some of the colonel’s medals that were stolen from a storage unit.
In April, all of his commendations except the Medal of Honor and Purple Hearts were stolen from a storage unit near Sanderson Avenue and Wentworth Drive in Hemet, in Riverside Country, California.
According to the article: “Also stolen were medals awarded to Millett by Canada and France, his bayonet collection, an Indian war saber, World War II uniforms and his family’s paintings.”
Most of the medals and other items were put in storage to avoid fire danger at their Idyllwild home, but his family kept the Medal of Honor and Purple Hearts close by at home.
The storage unit was one of three in Hemet that authorities say were burglarized by the same man: Nicholas Keys, 29, of Hemet, who pleaded guilty this week to one count of burglary.
Since Keys’ arrest, a few mementos have been recovered, but not the medals.”
“The theft of military medals is rare because they are difficult to sell, said Riverside National Cemetery Director Dean Moline. The recognitions are serialized and usually engraved with the recipient’s name.”
“What (the family) wanted were the medals,” Wisehart said. “Everything we recovered was miscellaneous stuff, and not exactly what they were looking for.”
Tracing the medals could prove difficult, police said. Millett Jr. and fellow veteran friends are scouring the Internet looking for possible sales.
“It’s stolen valor as far as I’m concerned,” Millett Jr. said. “Anyone who would steal someone else’s medals is disgraceful to his heroism and his sacrifice.”
He was given the Medal of Honor — the highest military decoration the United States bestows — for a Feb. 7, 1951, charge during the Korea War. According to the citation, Millett led a bayonet counterattack up a hill, killing enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand assault where they took the position. During the battle, he was wounded in a grenade blast.
Millett retired in 1973, after serving along with his son in Vietnam when Saigon fell, his son said. During the war, he acted as a hostage to bring the North Vietnamese Army to the U.S. during negotiations, Millett Jr. said.
Moline, director of the Riverside National Cemetery, said he had only heard of war medals being stolen twice during his career.
“Most honest people wouldn’t buy them unless it comes from the person themselves,” Moline said. “I don’t see how there’s a market for honest collectors.”
The theft of Millett’s medals shows a lack of respect for all veterans who served and sacrificed for their country, Moline said.
Anyone with information about the missing medals may call Hemet police at 951-765-2400.
Distinguished Service Cross: Second-highest honor given by the Army for valor, extreme gallantry and risk of life in combat.
Silver Star: Third-highest decoration in any branch of the U.S. military; given for valor in the face of the enemy.
Legion of Merit: Recognizes exceptionally meritorious conduct.
Bronze Star: Awarded for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service.
Croix de Guerre: A French award to U.S. forces for valor.
Medal of Honor: The highest award given during combat, bestowed by the president for bravery and heroism.
Purple Heart (four): Awarded for being wounded or killed in action.
Sources: U.S. Army, Department of Defense
Read the rest of the article here
Lewis Millett wrote the following poem in memory of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, especially his youngest son, and the 347 people who were killed returning from a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai.
A SOLDIER’S PRAYER – by Col. Lewis L. Millett
I’ve fought when others feared to serve.
I’ve gone where many failed to go.
I’ve lost friends in war and strife, who valued duty over the love of life.
I’ve shared the comradeship of pain
I’ve searched these lands for men that we’ve lost.
I’ve sons who’ve served our land of liberty who’d fight to see that other lands are free.
I’ve seen the weak forsake humanity.
I’ve heard fakers praise our enemy.
I’ve seen challenged men stand ever bolder.
I’ve seen the duty, the honor, the sacrifice of the soldier.
Now, I understand the meaning of all lives,
The lives of comrades of not so long ago.
So to you who answered duties siren call, may
God bless you my son, may God bless you all.
The story about Col. Millett’s is not unusual. Family members of Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. Homer L. Wise of Stamford, CT are searching for all of his medals including the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, three bronze stars, three purple hearts and ten other decorations.
Sgt. Wise died in 1974 and news reports published over the years in the Stamford (CT) Advocate revealed that the last known location of Sgt. Wise’s medals were in the collection of the renowned military medal collector Evans Kerrigan.
Mr. Kerrigan in one of the newspaper’s articles is quoted as saying he gave the medals to a Stamford veteran Edward Page for safe keeping. Mr. Page died in 1998. His widow has no recollection that her husband had Sgt. Wise’s medals.
Any information regarding the location of these medals would be greatly appreciated.
Please contact the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee at email@example.com.