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Show & Tell - WWI 5th Marine Co. Cdr's KIA Group DSC & Navy Cross-

Started by bobgee , Nov 22 2008 08:44 AM

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#1 bobgee

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 08:44 AM

wass_medals__2_.jpg

Wass_Full.JPG

Lester Sherwood Wass was born in Gloucester, MA on June 25, 1886. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant of Marines on May 14, 1909. The photograph of Wass was taken in 1909. Following completion of Marine Officer’s School at Port Royal, SC he served at Marine Barracks, Portsmouth, NH. Subsequently he served with the First Brigade Marines at Cavite, P.I. and other stations in the P.I. From April, 1910. He had further service abroad among other places including Shanghai, Taku and Pekin. He was back at Portsmouth on July 1, 1913. He was ashore in the Mexican Campaign at Vera Cruz from April until November, 1914. On January 8, 1915 he landed at Port-au-Prince, Haiti. On January 12, 1916 he landed at Santo Domingo City, Santo Domingo with the 22nd Co, 1st Regt. and later with the 2nd Brigade. He was promoted to First Lieutenant with DOR of June 12, 1916. He was detached from that service and arrived at Quantico on June 10, 1917. He had been promoted to Captain April 26, 1917 w/ DOR August 29, 1916. He joined the 5th Marines for foreign shore service in France, August 22, 1917 in command of the 18th (E) Company, 2nd Battalion under LtCol F. M. “Fritz” Wise USMC.

In combat at Chateau Thierry and in the Bois de Belleau in June and later at Soissons and Vierzy in July, he distinguished himself and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and later the Navy Cross as well as receiving four silver star citations. He was seriously wounded at Vierzy at the head of his troops on July 18, 1918 and died the following day. He is buried in France at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Plot D, Row 16, Grave 12.

His records reveal that he was recommended for a DSC by LtCol Wise for his heroism in the Bois de Belleau on June 11, 1918. It appears that this was approved as submitted. Subsequently, he was recommended for another DSC for the action northeast of Vierzy during on the July 18th. This is shown as disapproved. However, the final citation for the DSC , and later the Navy Cross, encompasses both dates and acts of valor.

Citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross (#5624) is presented to Lester S. Wass, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in action in
Bois-de-Belleau, June 11, 1918, and near Vierzy, France, July 18, 1918. In the Bois-de-Belleau, when all the officers of his company
had become casualties, Captain Wass displayed marked heroism in leading his men forward in the face of heavy machine-gun fire,
assisting in the capture of many machine-guns. Near Vierzy he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy machine-gun and artillery fire,
directing personally the reduction of strong points. He was killed at the head of his men, while leading an advance.
General Orders 71, W.D., 1919


The Second Division Citation in General Order #88, Page 69, presents an interesting visual depiction of this officer, as follows:

“Displayed unusual heroism, courage, coolness and utter disregard of personal danger under trying circumstances, northeast of VIERZY on July 18, 1918. During the second attack launched against the enemy by the second battalion, and while Captain Wass was personally directing the reduction of a machine gun nest, fearlessly exposed himself to its deadly fire, six friendly tanks which had been supporting the French on left returned through our lines bringing with them a murderous concentration of artillery fire. Controlled, as it was, by a low flying aeroplane this soon destroyed four of the six tanks. With the most wonderful nonchalance, and utter disregard of the bursting shells, surrounding him, Captain Wass went along the battle torn line calming the excited, and reassuring the faint heart. By his superb bravery he kept his line intact, and moved toward the enemy with a cane swinging easily in his hand.”

From his biography Wass’ service clearly entitles him to a 1915 Haitian Campaign, a Mexican Campaign and an Expeditionary Medal for his pre-war expeditionary service in the Philippine Islands and other places in the far east in addition to the Dominican Campaign . Details of the awards of, or whereabouts if awarded, of a Haiti, Mexican or Expeditionary, are unknown. Had he lived he would have received the Silver Star Medal with three OLCs as well as the Purple Heart medal. He is cited in Jane Blakeney’s “Heroes - U.S. Marine Corps - 1861 - 1955” with four Silver Star citations.

Semper Fi......Bobgee

#2 bobgee

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 04:22 PM

WOW amazing group is the DSC engraved? amazing marine..imagine an afternoon chatting to this man.


Thanks, Jim. Greetings to Dublin. Both of my folks were from Tipperary! The DSC is officially numbered. Seldom does an officially named legitimate WWI DSC appear; occasionally an old privately named piece will show up. References to Capt. Wass and his 18th Co, 5th Marines and their participation in the campaigns at Belleau Wood and the Soissons fight near Vierzy are found in most works on the 4th Brigade.
Semper Fi........Bob

#3 bobgee

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 08:16 AM

Years ago a couple of old-time medal collectors stated that the medals were hung on
the wall at NAS Weymouth or Yarmouth. I think they said at the "O" Club.

I think that GH got them from the guy who got them out of the "O" Club

Bill


Don't know where GH - George Harris got them but they were listed in his 1988 Catalog, No. 23. I got them from the collector who'd owned them since then. Proud to have them in my collection!
Semper Fi.....Bobgee

#4 bobgee

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 06:56 AM

I came across this water-color sketch by John W. Thomason, 4th Brigade veteran and famous Marine Corps author & illustrator. It reminded me of Wass' Silver Star citation. Thought I would share it here:

thomason_officer.jpg


The Second Division Citation in General Order #88, Page 69, presents an interesting visual depiction of this officer, as follows:

“Displayed unusual heroism, courage, coolness and utter disregard of personal danger under trying circumstances, northeast of VIERZY on July 18, 1918. During the second attack launched against the enemy by the second battalion, and while Captain Wass was personally directing the reduction of a machine gun nest, fearlessly exposed himself to its deadly fire, six friendly tanks which had been supporting the French on left returned through our lines bringing with them a murderous concentration of artillery fire. Controlled, as it was, by a low flying aeroplane this soon destroyed four of the six tanks. With the most wonderful nonchalance, and utter disregard of the bursting shells, surrounding him, Captain Wass went along the battle torn line calming the excited, and reassuring the faint heart. By his superb bravery he kept his line intact, and moved toward the enemy with a cane swinging easily in his hand.”

Semper Fi.....Bobgee

#5 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 10:15 AM

Today being the 94th anniversary of the start of the Belleau Wood campaign, a most appropriate time to revive this old thread for newer members to see... the price paid by so many Marines...

#6 Jack's Son

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:59 PM

Bob, I had no idea you had so many Belleau Wood groups! Just great.


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