Wilson, B.S. 1941, was born February 11, 1920, in Brandon, Mississippi, to Louis H. and Bertha Buchanan Wilson. While at the College, he competed in football and track. Wilson was commissioned a Marine officer upon graduation. As a platoon and later company commander in the Ninth Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, he took part in a number of combat operations in the Pacific, including the invasion of Guam during the Marianas campaign in 1944. It was on Guam that Captain Wilson took part in a two-day company action that resulted in his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Returning stateside to recover from wounds sustained in that action, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Later that year he married his Millsaps sweetheart, Jane Clark, of Pearson, Mississippi.
Already a major at the end of the war, Wilson elected to stay in the service and rose through the field grade and general officer ranks. His duty postings included battalion and regimental commands, a stint at the National War College, and overseas service in South Korea and South Vietnam. He was named commandant of the Marine Corps in 1975 by President Gerald Ford.
Following his retirement in 1979, Wilson sat on a number of corporate boards. He and his wife lived in Jackson at the time, and later moved to San Marino, California. The Wilsons eventually returned to the South, settling in Birmingham to be near their only child, Janet Wilson Taylor, an attorney and mother of two.
Wilson was made a trustee of Millsaps College in 1978 and was made a life trustee in 1990. Wilson's military decorations included the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two Gold Stars, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart Medal with two Gold Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation with Bronze Battle Star. His civilian honors included the Gold Medal from the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame (1977), the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Outstanding American Award from the Los Angeles Philanthropic Foundation, the Iron Mike Award from the Marine Corps League, the City of New York Silver Seal, Distinguished Achievement Award from Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (1946), Outstanding Mississippian Award (1974), and Omicron Delta Kappa from Millsaps College (1976). He was also inducted into the Millsaps College Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
General Louis Wilson died Tuesday, June 21 2005 at the age of 85 at his home in Birmingham.
"Millsaps has always meant a great deal to me. I had never really considered going anywhere else to college. But Millsaps in those days, as now, had a splendid reputation for its academic work; the achievements of its graduates."
Louis H. Wilson, 1941, Trustee
United States Marine Corps
Items in the exhibit include:
1941 Commencement program
Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity pin
General Wilson's garrison cap
Service decorations, 1942-1979
Home of the Commandants
The Medal of Honor
Third Marine Division shoulder patch and Captain's bars
Korean Order of National Security Merit,
GUK-SEON Medal, 2nd Class