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Wesley Lee Fox (September 30, 1931 – November 24, 2017) was a United States Marine Corps colonel with 43 years of service. Fox received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War, and is considered to be one of the Marine Corps' legendary heroes. During his career, he held every enlisted rank except sergeant major and every officer rank except the general officer ranks. After retiring from the Marines Corps, he wrote a book about his career — Marine Rifleman: Forty-Three Years in the Corps; and, he served for 8 years at Deputy Commandant for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.[1]

Wesley Lee Fox
Col Wesley L Fox.jpg
Colonel Wesley L. Fox, U.S. Marine Corps
Born (1931-09-30)September 30, 1931
Herndon, Virginia
Died November 24, 2017(2017-11-24) (aged 86)
Blacksburg, Virginia
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1950–1993
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
1st Battalion, 9th Marines
MAG-11
MCRD San Diego
2nd Force Reconnaissance Company
Marine Air Detachment
SHAPE
Basic School, Quantico
Commands held Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines
Battalion Commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines,
Commanding officer, U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Virginia
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"
Purple Heart (4)
Other work Deputy Commandant of Cadets at Virginia Tech
Marine Corps Recruiter
author

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Wesley Lee Fox was born on September 30, 1931 to John Wesley and Desola Lee (née Crouch) Fox on a farm outside of Herndon, Virginia, the oldest of ten siblings.[2][3] He attended Warren County High School in Front Royal, Virginia until 1948, quitting school in the eighth grade, intending to be a farmer.[4]

Marine Corps serviceEdit

Korean WarEdit

When the Korean War began, inspired by the military service of his cousins in World War II, Fox enlisted in the Marine Corps[4] on August 4, 1950, shortly before his 19th birthday. He intended to serve for four years and then return to the farm.[4] He completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina in October 1950. After a brief tour as a rifleman with the 2nd Marine Division at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he was sent to Korea.

His first tour to Korea began in January 1951, serving as a rifleman with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.[5] In March 1951, he was promoted to corporal.[4] He was wounded in action in Korea on September 8, 1951 and sent to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V".

He recovered and was released from Bethesda in March 1952, he served with the Armed Forces Police, in Washington, D.C., as a patrolman until September 1953 when he was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 11 in Japan.

1954 - 1967Edit

In 1954, with the war in Korea over, he re-enlisted for six years.[4] and was returned to Korea for his second tour, as a platoon sergeant with Company G, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. When he returned to the United States, he served briefly at the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, prior to being assigned to Drill Instructors School at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, where he completed the course course of instruction in August 1955.

Completing his course of instruction in August 1955, he remained at San Diego serving as a drill instructor until August 1957 when he once again returned to the East Coast to attend Recruiter’s School at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, subsequent to being assigned duty as a recruiter in the Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore, Maryland areas from 1957 to December 1960.

In December 1960, Fox was ordered back to the West Coast and served as a platoon sergeant with the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company at both Camp Pendleton, California, and on Okinawa through November 1962. In December 1962, he was assigned as a troop handler at the Marine Air Detachment, in Jacksonville, Florida, and served in this capacity until September 1965. Gunnery Sergeant Fox next saw duty in the Office of the Provost Marshall, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris, France.

In May 1966, he was promoted to first sergeant, and shortly afterwards, he completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a Marine second lieutenant.[6] Returning to the United States in August of that year, he became a platoon commander with the 2d Force Reconnaissance Company at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Vietnam WarEdit

Beginning in September 1967, Fox served in the Vietnam War for 13 months as an executive officer of a South Vietnamese Marine Battalion.[5] In November 1968, he was reassigned to Vietnam as the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines until May 1969. On February 22, 1969, during Operation Dewey Canyon in Quang Tri Province, he was wounded twice. He was wounded the first time in the shoulder when his company was attacked by a large enemy force. A first lieutenant at the time, Fox then personally neutralized one enemy emplacement and directed his company to destroy the enemy. After his company's executive officer was mortally wounded, he continued to direct the company's actions, ordering air strikes and coordinating the advance until the enemy retreated; Fox, the only officer left in his company still capable of resisting the enemy, was wounded again in the final assault, but refused medical attention while he reorganized his troops and prepared the wounded for evacuation. For his heroic actions that day he was presented the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon on March 2, 1971.[7]

Post-Marine CorpsEdit

Fox retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel in September 1993 at the mandatory age of 62. He held every enlisted rank except sergeant major and every officer rank up to colonel. He continued to wear the uniform for eight more years as a deputy commandant of cadets for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. During his time at Virginia Tech, Fox spoke of his experiences to America's next generation of military officers, business executives, and civic leaders.

Fox wrote a book about his experiences in the military, Marine Rifleman: Forty-Three Years in the Corps (2002)(ISBN 1-57488-425-5), and was featured on the 2003 PBS program American Valor. He wrote a second book Six Essential Elements of Leadership: Marine Corps Wisdom from a Medal of Honor Recipient(2011), which is required reading for first year cadets at Virginia Tech.[1]

Fox resided in Blacksburg, Virginia, with his wife, Dotti (formerly Dotti Lu Bossinger). They have three daughters. He died in Blacksburg in the evening of November 24, 2017[8], and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[3][1]

Military awardsEdit

Fox's military decorations and awards included:

 
 
 
 
         
        
                 
               
     
       
   
Scuba Diver Insignia
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia
Republic of Vietnam Parachutist Badge
1st Row Medal of Honor Legion of Merit w/ one 516" Gold Star
2nd Row Bronze Star Medal w/ Combat "V" Purple Heart w/ three ​516" Gold Stars Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal
3rd Row Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ Combat "V" and ​516" Gold Star Combat Action Ribbon w/ one ​516" Gold Star [1] Navy Presidential Unit Citation Army Presidential Unit Citation
4th Row Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ four ​316" Bronze Stars Marine Corp Good Conduct Medal w/ four ​316" Bronze Stars National Defense Service Medal w/ two ​316" Bronze Stars
5th Row Korean Service Medal w/ three ​316" Bronze Stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ one ​316" Silver Star and one ​316" Bronze Star Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ three ​316" Bronze Stars Navy Arctic Service Ribbon
6th Row Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ two ​516" Silver Stars Vietnam Staff Service Medal Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross) w/ Palm and Frame
7th Row Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Actions) w/ Palm and Frame United Nations Korea Medal Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ 1960- Device Republic of Korea War Service Medal

Medal of Honor citationEdit

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CAPTAIN WESLEY L. FOX
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer of Company A, in action against the enemy in the northern A Shau Valley. Capt. (then 1st Lt.) Fox's company came under intense fire from a large well concealed enemy force. Capt. Fox maneuvered to a position from which he could assess the situation and confer with his platoon leaders. As they departed to execute the plan he had devised, the enemy attacked and Capt. Fox was wounded along with all of the other members of the command group, except the executive officer. Capt. Fox continued to direct the activity of his company. Advancing through heavy enemy fire, he personally neutralized 1 enemy position and calmly ordered an assault against the hostile emplacements. He then moved through the hazardous area coordinating aircraft support with the activities of his men. When his executive officer was mortally wounded, Capt. Fox reorganized the company and directed the fire of his men as they hurled grenades against the enemy and drove the hostile forces into retreat. Wounded again in the final assault, Capt. Fox refused medical attention, established a defensive posture, and supervised the preparation of casualties for medical evacuation. His indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger inspired his Marines to such aggressive action that they overcame all enemy resistance and destroyed a large bunker complex. Capt. Fox's heroic actions reflect great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and uphold the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

/S/ Richard M. Nixon

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. ^ a b c "In Memoriam: Col. Wesley L. Fox, Medal of Honor recipient and honorary Virginia Tech alumnus". Virginia Tech News. November 27, 2017. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  2. ^ *"Wesley Fox, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War". MedalOfHonorBook. October 4, 2011. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Obituary:Fox, Wesley Lee". Roanoke Times. November 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Medal of Honor Recipient Wesley L. Fox Interview". Pritzker Military Museum & Library. October 27, 2005. 
  5. ^ a b "Interview - MoH recipient and author Wesley Fox: Wesley Fox: Leadership lessons steeled in combat from Korea to Vietnam". HistoryNet. 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  6. ^ Crockett, Lee (November 27, 2017). "Col. Wesley Lee Fox, RIP". Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  7. ^ Smith, Charles (1988). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: High Mobility and Standdown 1969. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 365. ISBN 978-1494287627. 
  8. ^ "Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Wesley Fox dies at 86". Stars and Stripes. 

External linksEdit