Lewis William Walt

Lewis William Walt

Infobox Military Person
name= Lewis William Walt
born= birth date|1913|2|16
died= death date and age|1989|3|26|1913|2|16
placeofbirth= Wabaunsee County, Kansas
placeofdeath= Gulfport, Mississippi
placeofburial= Arlington National Cemetery

caption= General Lew Walt, USMC
nickname= Lew Silent Lew Uncle Lew [Simmons"The US Marines History", p. 224.]
allegiance= flagicon|United States United States of America
branch= United States Marine Corps
serviceyears= 1930–1936 (Colorado National Guard) 1936–1971 (USMC)
rank= General
commands= 2nd Battalion 5th Marines 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines 5th Marine Regiment The Basic School 3rd Marine Division Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (1968–1971)
battles= World War II *Tulagi *Battle of Guadalcanal *Battle of Cape Gloucester Korean War Vietnam War
awards= Navy Cross (2) Distinguished Service Medal (2) Silver Star Legion of Merit Bronze Star Purple Heart

Lewis William Walt (February 16 1913 – March 26 1989), also known as Lew Walt, was a United States Marine Corps officer who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. His decorations included two Navy Crosses and two Distinguished Service Medals. He retired with the rank of four-star general.

After leading the attack on Aorgiri Ridge during the Battle of Cape Gloucester, the ridge was renamed renamed Walt's Ridge in his honor.


Lewis William Walt was born on 16 February 1913, in Wabaunsee County, Kansas. He graduated from high school in Fort Collins, Colorado, then entered Colorado State University, and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry upon graduation in 1936. Highlights of his student activities include: honor graduate, President of Student Body and Student Council, Captain of football team and wrestling team, Cadet Colonel of the ROTC, President of chemistry club and Captain of Scabbard and Blade. He enlisted in the Colorado National Guard at the age of 17. Upon graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Field Artillery Reserve, but resigned that commission to accept an appointment as a Marine second lieutenant on 6 July 1936.

Lieutenant Walt completed The Basic School at Philadelphia, and in April 1937 was assigned to the 6th Marine Regiment in San Diego, California as a machine gun platoon leader. Embarking for China in August 1937, he took part in the defense of the International Settlement of Shanghai until February 1938, at which time he returned to San Diego. In June 1939, he began his second tour of overseas duty when he was assigned to the Marine Barracks, Guam, Mariana Islands. He was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1939.

Returning to the United States in June 1941, shortly before his country's entry into World War II, Lieutenant Walt was assigned as a company commander in the Office Candidates' Class, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. He was promoted to captain in December 1941.

World War II

Early in 1942, Captain Walt volunteered to join the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, and in April 1942 arrived with the battalion on Samoa. On 7 August 1942, as commander of Company A, 1st Raider Battalion, he landed his company in the assault on Tulagi Island in the British Solomon Islands. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry during this landing. Following this action, he joined the 5th Marines on Guadalcanal where he took part in combat as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. He was promoted to major in September 1942.

200px|right|thumb|Lieutenant Colonel Lew Walt earned the Navy Cross leading an attack up Aogiri Ridge, renamed Walt's Ridge in his honor.

In October 1942, as Battalion Commander, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Major Walt was wounded in action but continued in combat. On 22 December 1942, he was spot promoted to lieutenant colonel for distinguished leadership and gallantry in action during the Guadalcanal campaign.

In December 1943, following hospitalization and training in Australia, Lieutenant Colonel Walt led the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, in the assault at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, and shortly thereafter was assigned as Regimental Executive Officer. In the middle of this campaign he was ordered to take over command of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, during the intense battle for Aogiri Ridge. During this action, he earned his first Navy Cross and Aogiri Ridge was named "Walt Ridge" in his honor by General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., 1st Marine Division Commander.

Departing Cape Gloucester in late February 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Walt was ordered to the Naval Hospital, Oakland, California, for treatment of wounds and malaria. In June 1944, he returned to the Pacific area. That September, he landed at Peleliu as Regimental Executive Officer, 5th Marines. On D-day he was again ordered to take over command of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, in the midst of the battle for the beachhead, when the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer were both killed. His second Navy Cross was awarded to him for gallantry this action.

In November 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Walt returned to the United States, and the following month assumed duty at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, as Chief of the Officer Candidates' School Tactics Section.

Interwar years

Assigned to Camp Pendleton in January 1947, Lieutenant Colonel Walt served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 3rd Marine Brigade, and then as G-3, 1st Marine Division. In November 1947, he assumed duty as Operations and Training Officer, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade on Guam, and later served as Chief of Staff of that organization from February to April 1949. Returning to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in May 1949, he saw duty as a battalion commander with the Special Training Regiment; and in September, he entered the Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course. On completing the course in June 1950, he remained at Marine Corps Schools to serve as Chief of Tactics Section, S-3, and finally, Executive Officer, The Basic School. He was promoted to colonel in November 1951.

Korean War

Colonel Walt was ordered to Korea in November 1952. He was in combat with the 1st Marine Division until August 1953, serving consecutively as Commanding Officer, 5th Marines, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, and Chief of Staff of the Division. The Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, both with Combat "V", were awarded to him for exceptionally meritorious service during this assignment. The Republic of Korea government also awarded Colonel Walt the Ulchi Medal and the Ulchi Medal with Silver Star for this period of combat.


On arrival at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in August 1953, Colonel Walt saw duty as Director, Advanced Base Problem Section, Marine Corps Educational Center, through May 1954, followed by duty as Commanding Officer, Officers' Basic School, until August 1956. He also served as a Member of the Advanced Research Group, Marine Corps Educational Center, until June 1957.

Transferred to Washington, D.C., Colonel Walt served as Assistant Director of Personnel until August 1959, then entered the National War College, Washington, D.C.. He completed the course in June 1960.

In July 1960, Colonel Walt began a one-year assignment as Marine Corps Representative on the Joint Advanced Study Group of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon completing this assignment, he was promoted to brigadier general and reported for duty at Camp Lejeune as Assistant Division Commander, 2nd Marine Division. In September 1962, General Walt returned to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, serving as Director of the Marine Corps Landing Force Development Center there until May 1965.

Vietnam War

That same month, he was promoted to major general, and in June 1965 assumed command of III Marine Amphibious Force and 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam. He was also Chief of Naval Forces, Vietnam and Senior Advisor, I Corps and I Corps Coordinator, Republic of Vietnam.

Ten months later, General Walt was nominated for lieutenant general by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and his promotion was approved by the Senate on 7 March 1966. He continued in Vietnam as Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force, and Senior Advisor, I Corps and I Corps Coordinator, Republic of Vietnam. During this period, General Walt was awarded his first Distinguished Service Medal. In addition, the Vietnamese government awarded General Walt the Vietnamese National Order, 3rd Class; the Vietnamese National Order, 4th Class; the Gallantry Cross with Palm; the Chuong My Medal, and the Vietnamese Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation of Gallantry Cross with Palm. He was also awarded the senior Ulchi Medal by the Government of South Korea.

As a testament to his vital role in Vietnam, "Life" magazine featured General Walt in a May 1967 cover story. The article noted the success of an innovative program initiated by General Walt in August 1965 called Combined Action Company (CAC). This program sent squads of Marine volunteers into the countryside to assist local part-time militia men known as Popular Forces. As "Life" noted, "His CAC units all had the same orders: help protect the villages, get to know the people, find the local Communist infrastructure and put it out of business." General Walt stressed the importance of using CAC to win the confidence of average, ordinary Vietnamese citizens. The magazine observed, "If these people could be located and won over, Walt argued, the Communists would be hit where it hurts." Because of his CAC program, the number of "secure" villages under General Walt's protection rose between 1965 and 1967 from 87 to 197, while the number of Vietnamese living in "secure" areas in general rose from 413,000 to 1.1 million. [cite news
title=The Two Wars of General Walt
author=Colin Leinster
work=LIFE Magazine
date=May 26, 1967

Assistant Commandant

Upon his return to the United States, General Walt saw duty from June 1967 until the following December as Deputy Chief of Staff (Manpower)/Director of Personnel, at Headquarters Marine Corps. On 1 January 1968, he was designated Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

In April 1969, the Senate passed and sent to the White House a bill to make the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps a four-star general when the active duty strength of the Marine Corps exceeds 200,000. On 5 May, President Richard M. Nixon signed the bill, and General Walt was promoted to four-star rank on 2 June 1969, thus becoming the first Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps to attain that rank.

While visiting the Taiwan Defense Command in April 1970, General Walt was presented the Order of the Cloud and Banner with Grand Cordon, by General Kao Kuei-yuan of the Republic of China. Presented by the Chief of the General Staff, the citation recognized the Assistant Commandant's "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the Chinese Marine Corps." The citation noted that General Walt had "contributed immensely in the furtherance of military cooperation and traditional friendship between the United States of America and the Republic of China."


General Walt retired from active duty on 1 February 1971 and subsequently served as Director of the United States Marines Youth Foundation. He later coordinated a U.S. Senate investigation on international drug trafficking. In the mid-1970s General Walt served as the senior military member of President Gerald Ford's clemency board, and he later advised the Department of Defense on weapons development and combat training.cite book
chapter="The Authors"
title=The Swiss Report
author=McDonald, Congressman Lawrence Patton, General George S. Patton, USA (retired), and General Lewis W. Walt, USMC (retired)
date=1983 |publisher=Western Goals

General Walt died on 26 March 1989 and is buried in Quantico National Cemetery. [cite web|url=http://www1.va.gov/directory/guide/gravesearchform.cfm?number=N872&fac_name=Quantico+National+Cemetery&ID=345&isFlash=0
title=U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator

Medals and decorations

A complete list of General Walt's medals and decorations includes:

* (with Gold Star in lieu of second award)

* (with Gold Star in lieu of second award)


* (with "V for Valor")

* (with "V for Valor")


* Presidential Unit Citation (United States) (with bronze star in lieu of second award)



* (with base clasp)

* (with four bronze stars)



* (with Asia-clasp)

* National Defense Service Medal (with one bronze star)

* (with two bronze stars)

* (with four bronze stars)


* Korean Presidential Unit Citation

* (with Palm)


Foreign Awards

*from the Republic of Korea:
**Ulchi Medal with Neck Band and Breast Plate
**Ulchi Medal with Silver Star
**Ulchi Medal
**Korean Order of Service Merit, Second Class

*From China
**Choung My Medal
**Chinese Order of Cloud and Banner with Grand Cordon

*From the Republic of Vietnam
**the Vietnamese Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation
**Vietnamese National Order, 3d Class
**Vietnamese National Order, 4th Class

ee also

*Battle of Cape Gloucester
*List of Korean War veterans who are recipients of the Bronze Star



:"This article contains text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps."


*cite book
last = Simmons
first = Edwin H.
authorlink =
title = The United States Marines: A History, Fourth Edition
publisher = Naval Institute Press
date = 2003
location = Annapolis, Maryland
doi =
id = ISBN 1-59114-790-5


*cite web|accessdate=2007-10-29
title=General Lewis W. Walt, USMC
work=Who's Who in Marine Corps History
publisher=History Division, United States Marine Corps

*cite web|url=http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/lwwalt.htm
title=Lewis William Walt, General, United States Marine Corps
publisher=Arlington National Cemetery

External links

*cite news|accessdate=2007-10-29
title= Lewis W. Walt, Marine Corps General, Dies at 76
author=Halloran, Richard
date=March 28, 1989
work=New York Times

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