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Clair E. Willcox

Home of record: St. Louis Missouri

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel Clair E. Willcox (MCSN: 0-59684), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from 21 March to 3 April 1969. Throughout this period, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox aggressively led his battalion against North Vietnamese Army forces in a sustained operation to drive them from the Fire Support Base ARGONNE area located northwest of the Vandegrift Combat Base. Assuming command after the initial assault had resulted in numerous casualties among the officers and key staff noncommissioned officer personnel of the command post, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox unhesitatingly undertook a helicopter reconnaissance of the battle area, although fully aware of the presence of hostile anti-aircraft emplacements. Throughout the night, as a result of his visual inspection he conceived a bold and imaginative plan designed to dislodge the enemy from the positions and the following morning, although his command post was subjected to a heavy mortar bombardment, he repeatedly exposed himself to the North Vietnamese Army fire to direct effective countermortar fire on suspected hostile emplacements. That afternoon, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox landed at Fire Support Base ARGONNE in the lead helicopter and, after establishing his command post proceeded to implement his plan of operation. For the next several days, he continually exposed himself to intense hostile fire as he moved about the hazardous terrain, skillfully directing the maneuvers of his companies and supervising the employment of his fire and supporting arms. His presence in the fire-swept area and his brilliant tactical movements against the well-equipped and tenacious enemy force instilled confidence and aggressiveness in his men. On 27 March, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox was seriously wounded in his right arm and hand. Steadfastly refusing medical evacuation, he accepted rudimentary first aid treatment and remained in the exposed position to direct and control the fire of his units and ensure that fire support was maintained during repeated clashes with the North Vietnamese Army forces. His heroic actions and resolute determination inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in a decisive defeat of the hostile units. By his courage, aggressive leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: March 21 - April 3, 1969

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 1st Battalion

Regiment: 4th Marines

Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF

Legion of Merit

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" to Lieutenant Colonel Clair E. Willcox (MCSN: 0-59684), United States Marine Corps, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from 21 March to 5 August 1969. Throughout this period Lieutenant Colonel Willcox performed his demanding duties in an exemplary and highly professional manner. A skilled and experienced tactician, he quickly molded his unit into an aggressive fighting force and provided a consistently high level of support to his command. Participating in numerous major combat operations in the northern sector of the I Corps Tactical Zone, including Operations PURPLE MARTIN, HERKIMER MOUNTAIN, and GEORGIA TAR, he disregarded his own safety as he boldly moved to forward positions to direct his companies in pursuit of large North Vietnamese Army forces and to ensure the delivery of concentrated fire power against areas known to contain hostile sanctuaries and supply depots. Under his dynamic and courageous leadership, his Battalion accounted for numerous enemy soldiers killed and was instrumental in thwarting repeated attempts by the enemy to initiate offensive actions against friendly positions. On one occasion, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox deployed one of his companies deep in enemy-controlled territory and working under extremely hazardous conditions, directed the rescue of the crew and all passengers of a downed CH-46 transport helicopter. His resolute determination and indomitable fighting spirit earned the respect and admiration of all who served with him and contributed immeasurably to the accomplishment of his unit's mission. By his leadership, extraordinary professionalism, and unflagging devotion to duty, Lieutenant Colonel Willcox rendered distinguished service to his country and thereby upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. (Lieutenant Colonel Willcox is authorized to wear the Combat "V".)

Action Date: March 21 - August 5, 1969

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 1st Battalion

Regiment: 4th Marines

Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF