AQUILLA JAMES DYESS, USMCR (DECEASED)
Medal of Honor Citation
Lieutenant Colonel Aquilla James Dyess, was was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" at the head of his troops on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 2 February 1944, was born on 11 January 1909 in Andersonville, Georgia. He graduated from Clemson College, Clemson, South Carolina, in 1932 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture. At Clemson, he served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Army Infantry Reserve in 1931. He was appointed a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve in November 1936.
In 1937, 1stLt Dyess was awarded the Bronze Medal as a shooting member of the Marine Corps Rifle Team which won the Hilton trophy in the National matches, and was given the same award in 1938 as an alternate member of the team that captured the Rattlesnake trophy in the matches.
In civilian life, he was a general contractor. He also served as assistant director of a summer camp for boys. As a youth, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout, highest in the Scout movement.
Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was killed on 2 February 1944 by a burst of enemy machine gun fire while standing on the parapet of an anti-tank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last Japanese position in the northern part of Namur island. In this final assault, LtCol Dyess posted himself between the opposing lines and, exposed to fire from heavy automatic weapons, led his troops in the advance. Wherever the attack was slowed by heavier enemy fire, he quickly appeared and placed himself at the head of his men and inspired them to push forward.
Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was initially buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Later, in 1948, he was reinterred in Westover Memorial Park Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.
World War II 1941-1945 Medal of Honor