LEWIS KENNETH BAUSELL, USMC
The only enlisted Marine from the Nation's capital, Washington, D.C., to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II was Cpl Lewis K. Bausell. Born in nearby Virginia, his family moved to Washington when he was still a small boy. He met his death on Peleliu when he covered an exploding Japanese hand grenade in order to protect his comrades.
Lewis Kenneth Bausell was born in Pulaski, Virginia, 17 April 1924. Moving to Washington, he attended the local public schools and then went to work as a bookbinder for Ransdell, Incorporated, a Washington printer. He was employed there at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941.
In the week following, on 15 December, he enlisted in the Marine Corps for a four-year period. After training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, he joined the 1st Marine Division in New River, North Carolina.
Corporal Bausell took part in the initial landings on Guadalcanal and fought there for four months before going southward to Melbourne, Australia. In the spring of the next year he sailed for New Guinea.
Serving with the 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Cpl Bausell prepared for the next campaign, in New Guinea and then made the Cape Gloucester, New Britain, landing three days after the original invasion in the waning days of 1943. With that campaign concluded, the division returned to the Solomon Islands and went to Pavuvu Island for rest, rehabilitation, and preparation for another campaign.
The Peleliu landing took place on 15 September 1944 and the 5th Marines were the left flank regiment on the division front. In the first hour of action, the assault waves fought their way 100 yards inland to the top of a small coral ridge, one of dozens on the island. Cpl Bausell, who, one month earlier had been examined and found qualified for promotion to the rank of sergeant, was in a squad assigned to clean out one of the many enemy-infested caves which honeycombed the ridge.
On one side of the cave, a Marine second lieutenant and several of his men were using a flame thrower to force the enemy out through the other side where Cpl Bausell and several others waited with rifles ready. Two men stood at the entrance, firing into the cave. A Japanese soldier charged out holding a grenade against his body and lunged toward the little band of Marines. The grenade exploded injuring several Marines and killing the attacker.
Another enemy soldier came to the entrance and was shot. Then a third appeared and threw a grenade into the group. Cpl Bausell heroically threw himself upon it to save the lives of his fellow Marines.
Evacuated to a hospital ship, 20-year old Cpl Bausell died of his wounds three days later on 18 September and was buried at sea.
The Medal of Honor, posthumously awarded the Marine by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was presented to his mother and father in the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal on 11 June 1945. Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, was present for the ceremony, as were the hero's two sisters and one sister-in-law.
On 19 November 1945 in Bath, Maine, a new destroyer, the USS Bausell, was christened by the Cpl Bausell's mother.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cpl Bausell was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars and the World War II Victory Medal.