The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a resolution in honor of the county’s first and so far, only Medal of Honor recipient, Lewis Kenneth Bausell.
A native of Pulaski, Bausell was born April 17, 1924 to Lawrence and Margaret Bausell. The Bausell family lived on Henry Avenue prior to their moving to Washington, D.C.
According to the resolution passed Monday morning, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Bausell left his high school in D.C. and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17.
By 1942, Bausell had risen to the rank of corporal and was shipped overseas where for the next two years he saw combat in the battles of Tulagi, Gavutu, Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and finally Peleliu in the Palau Islands in the Pacific while serving with the 5th Marines, 1st Division.
On Sept. 15, 1944 at Peleliu, Corporal Bausell – to protect and save his fellow Marines – valiantly threw himself on top of a Japanese grenade taking the full blast of the explosion.
After being evacuated to hospital ship DuPage, he died from his injuries three days later on Sept. 18, 1944 and was buried at sea.
On June 11, 1945, Corp. Bausell was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest military honor – by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his courage and sacrifice of life. The medal was presented to his mother and father in the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal.
On Nov. 19, 1945 in Bath, Maine, a new Navy destroyer, the USS Bausell, was christened by his mother.
The destroyer saw action during both the Korean and Vietnam wars and was decommissioned on May 30, 1978.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Bausell was also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars and the World War II Victory Medal. He is also listed on the American Battle Monument Commission’s Wall of the Missing at Manila Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.
Bausell’s story is told in vivid detail in the first chapter of “Killing the Rising Sun,” the New York Times best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
Bausell was also mentioned recently during a special called meeting May 24 of the Pulaski County School Board. The board heard a request that the roadway entering the new Pulaski County Middle School be named in honor of Bausell.
The school board is expected to take up the suggestion again during their next meeting Monday, July 2 at 6 p.m.
Bausell will be honored on Wednesday, July 4 at 12:30 p.m. at the Pulaski Theatre during a Remembrance of Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces ceremony.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot