The U.S.S. DYESS' Namesake
Lt. Col. Aquilla James "Jimmie" "Big Red" DYESS, USMC
1998 Augusta, Georgia Dedications
A Tibute to Lt. Col. A. J. Dyess
Here I in sorrow kneel
Big Red has gone seeking greener fields
His counsel and guidance now beyond our reach
This dawn he lays upon another beach
Lay down the rifle. Kneel in the heat.
God speed his reluctant feet
This be our tribute
Tis in sorrow rendered
The first if not the last, well remembered.
MSGT TOM MACKEY
Lt. Col. Dyess was a native of Augusta, GA., and a member of Clemson's Class of 1931. He is the only person known to have been awarded both the Carnegie Medal for heroism in peacetime and the Medal of Honor. He was a large man, with a head full of fire red hair; He was called "Big Red" by his friends.
At age 19, along a beach at Sullivan's Island, north of Charleston, he saw a young girl leap into the ocean to rescue a woman being carried out to sea. Dyess joined the rescue, and after a tiring 30 minutes he brought the unconscious bather to shore and helped resuscitate her. It was for this rescue he was awarded the Carnegie Medal.
News Account of this Story
Lt. Col. Dyess was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
It is through a contributor to this Web Site that we now have the story about just how he earned this incredible honor, and we wish to thank George Munk for this part of our tribute.
DYESS, AQUILLA JAMES - Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Born: 11 January 1909, Augusta, Ga. Appointed from: Georgia.
Citation Awarded: Medal of Honor
"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 an 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 machinegun 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."
News Account of his last day
Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith wrote of Dyess: "Whenever I lecture on leadership, I use an overhead slide that displays a short list of impressive leaders. Lt. Col. Dyess, who demonstrated his commitment to serve his nation and his fellow man time after time, now heads this list."