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Home Town Not Specified
Last Address Richmond
Date of Passing Jun 22, 1985
Location of Interment Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Last Known Activity MCILHENNY, WALTER S. First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve) Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division Date of Action: August 27, 1942 Citation: The Navy Cross is presented to Walter S. McIlhenny, First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and courage as Executive Officer of Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, during a frontal assault upon a strongly fortified enemy Japanese position along the coast of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, August 27, 1942. After organizing a volunteer party to advance and evacuate the wounded from the hazardous position well forward of the company, First Lieutenant Mcllhenny, armed only with a rifle, and while under heavy enemy mortar and machine gun fire, covered the advance and withdrawal of the rescue party, gallantly drawing enemy fire and silencing a Japanese machine gun nest. Although ill at the time and suffering shock from concussion of an enemy mortar shell, he returned to a vantage point close to enemy lines and, in the face of fierce sniper fire, acted as an observer, relaying accurate information necessary for fire control until ordered by his superior officer to leave his post. His great personal valor, above and beyond the call of duty, not only made possible the rescue of nine wounded men but also contributed to the success of Marine mortar fire. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States. SPOT AWARD, (1942) Serial 18 (SofN Signed marcch 18, 1943) Born: 10/22/1910 at Washington, D.C. Home Town: Richmond, Virginia
Other Comments: Silver Star citation "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while in command of Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, in combat against enemy Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on November 2, 1942. After a previous attempt to secure information had failed, Captain McIlhenny led a patrol of approximately twenty men to reconnoiter the enemy's right flank and, moving through dense jungle, cleared the zone of hostile snipers and finally reached his objective. Completing his mission, he started to lead his patrol back to their own lines when they were spotted by the enemy who immediately opened fire, pinning them down. When almost all of his men were wounded, including two runners who had been dispatched to the battalion, Captain McIlhenny, despite his own injury, determined to carry the message himself and finally succeeded in reaching our lines. His great courage and unswerving devotion to duty enabled his company to attack the enemy's flank and capture their position. His superb leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Walter Stauffer McIlhenny served as president of McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco brand pepper sauce, from 1949 until his death in 1985. He also distinguished himself as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve â?? receiving the Navy Cross for his actions during the Battle of Guadalcanal and retiring as a brigadier general. He was a co-founder, trustee, and president emeritus of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas.
Having joined the Virginia National Guard in 1931 and served on its rifle team, McIlhenny transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1935, attended Platoon Leaders Class, and served as captain of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve rifle team.
Called to active duty at the beginning of World War II, McIlhennny spent thirty-one months in the western Pacific as a member of B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. At Guadalcanal, he received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. He also saw action at New Britain and at Peleliu, where he received a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart.
Upon retirement from the Marine Corps Reserve, McIlhenny received a promotion to brigadier general.
McIlhenny's combat helmet, along with the captured Japanese samurai sword that dented it, are on display at the National World War II Museum (formerly the National D-Day Museum) in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Despite his interest in military service, McIlhenny felt obliged to enter the family business around 1940, when he began executive training at McIlhenny Company, maker of world-famous Tabasco brand pepper sauce at Avery Island, Louisiana. McIlhenny's grandfather, Edmund McIlhenny, had invented the fiery condiment, and his father, John Avery McIlhenny, had presided over the company from 1890 to 1898.
World War II interrupted McIlhenny's training at McIlhenny Company, but he returned to the organization in 1946, assumed its presidency in 1949, and retained that office until his own demise in 1985. During his tenure as head of the company, McIlhenny expanded and modernized the production and marketing of Tabasco brand pepper sauce, and helped to mold the brand into an international culinary icon.
A bon vivant and gourmet, McIlhenny was closely acquainted with many luminaries of the food world such as James Beard and Paul Prudhomme.
McIlhenny was an avid hunter, participated in many big game hunts in the U.S. and Canada, and went on several African safaris and Indian shikars. A lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, he also served on the committee that oversaw the U.S. Olympic rifle and pistol team.
McIlhenny died June 22, 1985, in Lafayette, Louisiana, and was interred in a family cemetery at Avery Island, Louisiana. Unmarried, he left much of his estate to the Marine Military Academy.