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Major William G Gillis Jr

Major William G Gillis Jr

1st Battalion -  320th Infantry Regiment

William Graham Gillis, Jr, son of William Graham Sr and Lulu (Chambers) Gillis, was born October 7, 1917 in Cameron, Texas. He married Lenore Riley July 5, 1941 and the couple had a daughter, Georgia. He graduated from West Point Military Academy June 11, 1941 and was Commander of the 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry Regiment. Major William G Gillis Jr was killed in action September 30, 1944 in the vicinity of the Foret de Gremecey, France. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Cameron, Texas. Major Gillis has been inducted into the 35th Division Association Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Service Cross

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Major (Infantry) William Graham Gillis, Jr. (ASN: 0-23909), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division. On 15 September 1944, Major Gillis commanded the 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry, during the crossing of the Rhine-Marne Canal and the Le Sanon River. The enemy stubbornly opposed the crossing with strong forces of infantry which were dug in at close range, and by mortar and machine-gun fire from commanding positions on the hills. During the crossing, which was made by direct assault over improvised bridging constructed under intense direct enemy fire, Major Gillis was regularly present with the leading elements of his troops, moving freely among them to direct the attack. Disregarding his own safety he waded and swam across the river and canal several times under heavy enemy fire. His courageous leadership and exemplary conduct under fire so inspired his men that they were able to force the crossing successfully against heavy odds. His heroic accomplishment and zealous devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the military forces of the United States.

General Orders No. 114, Headquarters Third U.S. Army, 1944

Silver Star Medal 

Silver Star Medal

Major William G Gillis, Jr, O23909, Infantry, United States Army, for gallantry in action during the period 10-12 August 1944 in the vicinity of Mortain, France. Upon assuming command of the First Battalion, 320th Infantry on 10 August 1944, Major Gillis was assigned the mission of taking high ground near Mortain, and making contact with an infantry battalion that had been isolated in that area for 5 days. He led his battalion to the base of the high ground, and although cut off by strong pockets of enemy resistance, brought supplies and equipment to his troops by infiltration. After reorganizing his battalion, he led an assault that resulted in taking the objective on 12 August in the face of very strong enemy resistance, including tanks. He made contact with the isolated battalion, rendered medical aid and supplied such food as was available, and brought under American control all of the commanding high ground east of Mortain. Throughout this action, Major Gillis, although himself wounded in the hand, accompanied leading elements of his battalion and inspired the troops under his command by his skillful leadership, tenacity of purpose, courage, coolness, positive action and utter disregard for personal safety. Entered United States Military Academy from Texas.

General Orders No. 28, Headquarters 35th Infantry Division, 2 September 1944

Bronze Star Medal 
Bronze Star Medal
Major William G Gillis Jr, O23909, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States, in the vicinity of * * * , France, on 27, 28 and 29 September 1944. On 27 September the First Battalion, 320th Infantry, was attached to the * * * Infantry Regiment engaged in defending the attenuated line along the northeast edge of the * * * . This battalion, commanded by Major Gillis, was committed on the right flank of the line, with the mission of regaining ground lost during the initial phase of the defensive operation. For a period of two days, until he was killed by enemy mortar fire while in the area of one of his front line companies, Major Gillis led the attack of his battalion with tireless energy, inspiring his troops by his constant presence at the front, and displaying sound tactical judgement which resulted in repulsing numerous German counterattacks and in regaining much of the ground previously relinquished. Entered United States Military Academy from Texas.

General Orders No. 51, Headquarters 35th Infantry Division, 8 November 1944

The Austin American, Austin TX - December 18, 1948

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