Corporal Lee H. Phillips, 20, of Ben Hill, Georgia, was posthumously awarded the Nation’s highest decoration for his heroism on 4 November 1950, while fighting in Korea with Company E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, in the push toward the Chosin Reservoir. The young squad leader was the 40th Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in Korea.
Although he survived that action, he was killed at Yudam-ni on 27 November 1950, during a later phase of the hard-fought Chosin Reservoir campaign. The medal was presented to his mother on 29 March 1954 by Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson. The Pentagon ceremony also included presentation of posthumous Medals of Honor to the families of Sergeants James E. Johnson and Daniel P. Matthews.
Corporal Phillips’ Medal of Honor was awarded “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty" while serving as a Squad Leader of Company E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 4 November 1950.
Lee Hugh Phillips was born on 3 February 1930 in Stockbridge, Georgia. He attended school in Ellenwood, Georgia, until 1945, then worked six months painting picture frames for the Georgia Art Supply Company of Atlanta, and more than a year as a stock clerk at the Davison-Paxton department store in that city. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on 17 January 1948, and after six months of inactive duty, joined the regular Marine Corps on 19 July 1948.
Completing his recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in October 1948, he was promoted to private first class and assigned to the 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He remained with the 8th Marines for a year, serving with the regiment on Caribbean maneuvers in February and March 1949, and in the Mediterranean from May to September 1949. He then served with Company E, 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, until August 1950, when the battalion was assigned to the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, for service in Korea. He sailed from San Diego, California, with that unit in September 1950, and had fought with Company E in the capture of Seoul before he was killed in action and buried at the Chosin Reservoir.
Corporal Phillips was also awarded a posthumous Purple Heart Medal for his fatal wounds. His other medals and decorations included the Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze stars; the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Europe clasp; the National Defense Service Medal; the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars and the United Nations Service Medal.
Korean War Medal of Honor