When we first started writing these pieces, we never expected we'd see so many battalion commanders being at the tip of the spear and putting their lives on the line. We should have expected it though, after all, that's how the Marine Corps works. Lead from the front. Like Lt. Colonel Aquilla J. Dyess. Leading from the front, the bravery that this Marine showed, was only surpassed by his devotion to his men. If they were going to attack, he was going to be at the front. There was no cowering in a command post far from the action for this man.The year was 1944, location Marshall Islands, one of the many tiny islands that the Marine Corps was seizing from the Japanese, bitter fighting on each one of them, but the Marines would not be denied. Representing themselves well in the tradition of the Marines who fought at Belleau Wood, the Marines of 1st Battalion 24th Marines, 4th Marine division tore through Namur Island on the Kwajalein Atoll. They had done so well in fact that a group of six snipers had accidentally moved beyond enemy lines.When the Japanese realized this, they attacked the small detachment killing one and wounding four of the others. Somehow, like a ghost in the night, Lt. Colonel Aquilla J. Dyess made his way to their position and ferried them to safety.
However, the next day would not be as fortunate for Aquilla. As he was directing forces to destroy the remnants of the Japanese resistance on the island, putting himself in grave danger and exposing himself to enemy fire, Aquilla J. Dyess, Lt. Colonel United States Marine Corps, was struck down by enemy machine gun fire.Long forgotten in our minds, preoccupied with smartphones and gossip, we forget that men like this once stood tall in the face of danger, sacrificing themselves for the benefit of others. For his actions on that day, Lt. Colonel Dyes, was awarded the Medal of Honor.Read more stories of American Grit: