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Officials cut ribbon, dedicate building to Marine Corps hero

By Nathan Hanks | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | August 24, 2017

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Two ceremonies, a ribbon-cutting and building dedication, were held here, Aug. 24, for a new $14.5 million Weapons Storage and Inspection Facility aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

The building was dedicated in memory of Medal of Honor recipient Chief Warrant Officer 4 Harold E. Wilson, who was also the adjutant here for then-Headquarters Battalion, Supply Center Marine Corps Base Albany, in the 1960s.

The nearly 59,000 square-foot, single-story, climate controlled, reinforced concrete facility will be used to receive, store, inspect and ship military arms throughout the Marine Corps, according to installation officials.

Maj. Gen. Craig C. Crenshaw, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said the new structure will replace the current 75-year-old storage facility.

“You heard about the building itself and what it means but what is more important, which will be addressed in the second portion, is the building dedication and the name behind the dedication of this building,” Crenshaw said. “From a Marine Corps Logistics Command perspective, this is another added capability that we have and will be able to provide the necessary support to our warfighters.

“The command is fortunate to have it,” he continued. “We are very proud and honored to be part of today's event and I am very proud to be the recipient, on behalf of the command, of this great building.”

Crenshaw thanked the Wilson family for their dedication to the Marine Corps, and recognized MCLB Albany’s command staff for “being able to deliver what we think is a tremendous capability and that we will be able to provide better support to the warfighter.”

Crenshaw, Col. James C. Carroll III, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Boatright, public works officer, MCLB Albany, joined to cut the ribbon to the new facility.

Carroll explained why the building was being dedicated to Wilson.

“As the base commanding officer, I am humbled to be here for such an event,” Carroll began. “Chief Warrant Officer Wilson served here aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany back when it was named Marine Corps Supply Center Albany.

“We’ve heard the citation and one of the things that sticks out to me when I read his citation as a Medal of Honor recipient was his actions on April 23 and 24, 1951, on Hill 902 in Korea,” he pointed out. “While he was engaged in a fierce battle – and despite being shot twice – platoon sergeant Wilson refused medical treatment and stayed to fight even as his company repelled mortar, machinegun, grenade and small-arms fire. He made sure that ammunition and weapons were in the hands of fighting men.

“The next morning after he took care of his men and his platoon, he stumbled a half mile unassisted to an aid station,” he added. “Few men demonstrate this type of bravery in the face of danger. When learning that then-President (Harry S.) Truman would be hanging the medal around his neck, his response was, “I only did my duty.”

Carroll said Wilson epitomized a verse in the Marines Hymn which reads, “We have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun.”

“Well, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wilson served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam – literally, in every clime and place where he could take a gun,” he added.

Carroll revealed how Wilson received his nickname, “Speedy.”

“As a young boy, he had a job delivering groceries,” he said. “He first used a wagon to deliver groceries and apparently he was a little slow in that so they nicknamed him, ‘Slow Poke.’

“But being the fierce fighter, he saved up enough money and bought himself a bike and started delivering groceries at what you would call lightning speed,” he continued. “They titled him ‘Speedy’ and well he lived by that throughout his life.”

Carroll noted Wilson was one of four boys, all of whom enlisted in the Marine Corps, and described him as a man of few words but quick to action. He was 76-years-old at the time of his death.

“Chief Warrant Officer 4 ‘Speedy’ Wilson served this country with honor and distinction,” Carroll said. “He demonstrated by virtue of his honorable and faithful service the motto we’ve adopted here at MCLB Albany of ‘Win to the End.’

“I don’t think there is any doubt that Chief Warrant Officer ‘Speedy’ Wilson ‘won to the end,’” he added. “The building here today will represent our efforts to ‘Win to the End.’”

Carroll concluded saying, “From this point forward, it will be by the hands of artisans right here in Albany, Georgia, that many of the Marine Corps’ weapons will be inspected and stored in this building before being sent out to the operating forces. What a way to remember Chief Warrant Officer Wilson.”

John M. Wilson, son of CWO 4 Wilson, spoke on behalf of the family.

“We are honored to be here,” he said. “This is a great honor for the family. I think it is fitting, like Colonel Carroll said that this building and what it is designed to do fits in with the warfighting spirit that my dad exhibited so many years ago in Korea. I am so proud to be here.”

Wilson said the day’s events were very special to his family.

“It recognizes my dad’s dedication and service to the country and Marine Corps,” he said. “The actions he engaged in so many years ago and also knowing this building is going to be storing the weapons the Marines are going to be using in other actions in the next few years. “Something that is related to my father now is going to be sent out to Marine units all over the world for their service to this country for the freedoms we all love and cherish.”

Wilson recalled his dad as being humble man.

“Dad was so humble about his accomplishments and being a Medal of Honor recipient,” he revealed. “He would probably say everybody is making too much a big deal over this. He would probably say there are other people more deserving and having a building such as this named after him.

“Deep down I think he would be proud,” he said. “He wouldn’t say too much about it because he was such a private man. There were people who knew dad for years that probably never knew he had a Medal of Honor.”

Wilson thanked the Marines, family members and friends for attending the ceremony and for their support throughout the years.

1st Lt. Delaney Bourlakov, event narrator, read Wilson’s Medal of Honor citation aloud.

 An excerpt from the citation reads:

“Technical Sergeant Harold Wilson, for gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Platoon Sergeant of a rifle platoon attached to Company G, in action against enemy aggressor forces on the night of 23-24 April 1951. When the company outpost was overrun by the enemy while his platoon, firing from hastily constructed foxholes, was engaged in resisting the brunt of a fierce mortar, machine gun, grenades and small-arms attack launched by hostile forces from high ground under cover of darkness, T/Sgt. Wilson braved intense fire to assist the survivors back into the line and direct the treatment of casualties.”

In summary, Wilson was wounded four times during the night-long battle. He refused medical treatment to rally his men against overwhelming communist forces. With both arms virtually disabled, he moved from foxhole to foxhole aiding and encouraging his men, according to the citation.

“By his heroic actions in the face of almost certain death, when the unit’s ability to hold the disadvantageous position was doubtful, he instilled confidence in his troops, inspiring them to rally repeatedly and turn back the furious assaults. At dawn, after the final attack had been repulsed, he personally accounted for each man in his platoon before walking unassisted ½ mile to the aid station where he submitted to treatment.”

Lastly, Carroll and John Wilson unveiled the tablet dedicating the facility to the Marine Corps hero, concluding the event.

 


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