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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.
The activation of the Fifth Marines dates back to June 1917, just prior to the U.S. force deployment to France during World War I. The Regiment won its nickname, the “Fighting Fifth,” on the battlefields of western Europe. So fierce were its efforts in the Battle of Belleau Wood and subsequent victories that the French government awarded the Regiment the Croix de Guerre with two palms and one gilt star. Today, each Marine serving in the Regiment also wears the Fourragere, a French unit award, on the left shoulder of his uniform to recognize the legacy and valor of his predecessors.
5th Marines and 6th Marines – 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood – Awarded the Fourragere aux couleurs de la Croix de guerre with palm leaf three times.
Briefly deactivated, the Regiment was reactivated in June 1920, to guard the delivery of the U.S. Mail against domestic bandits. While they were on the job, not one Marine was killed and not one piece of mail was lost to thieves. In March 1927, the Regiment deployed to South America and fought in support of the Nicaraguan government against rebel bands until April 1930. Shortly thereafter, the Regiment was again briefly deactivated. Troubled times and small conflicts in the Americas however, led to the Regiment’s reactivation on 1 September 1934.
After further service in the U.S. and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Fifth Marines deployed to New Zealand in 1942 as part of the U.S. Pacific Campaign against Japan. During the course of World War II, the Regiment further distinguished itself in action at Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, Peleliu and Okinawa. The post-war years found the Regiment on occupation duty in North China until May 1947, when it relocated to Guam. In August 1950, it moved to its current home, Camp Pendleton, California.
The country again called upon the Fifth Marines in August 1950, when the Regiment found itself in combat on the Pusan Perimeter in Korea. During the next three years the Regiment fought at Inchon and Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir, and on both the East Central and Western Fronts. The Fifth Marine Regiment returned to Camp Pendleton in March 1955, and remained there for the next eleven years.
In May 1966, the Fifth Marines arrived in the Republic of South Vietnam where it would remain until April 1971. Vietnam era Marines added the names Rung Sat, Chu Lai, Phu Bai, Hue, Khe Sahn, An Hoa, Tam Ky, and Da Nang to the Regiment’s long list of distinguished battle actions.
In August 1990, the nation again called on the “Fighting Fifth” – this time in support of Operation Desert Shield. On 26 January 1991, while embarked with the largest amphibious task force since World War II, Regimental Landing Team (RLT) Five, in conjunction with RLT-2, conducted heliborne and surface assaults for Exercise Sea Soldier IV in Southern Oman. On 25 February 1991, the Regiment disembarked in direct support of Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait. Less than three months later, Fifth Marines received an executive order to conduct humanitarian assistance and relief operations in Bangladesh. The Regiment returned to Camp Pendleton on 29 June 1991.
In the decade following Operation Desert Storm, the Regiment deployed to Yellowstone National Park, the Umatilla National Forest in Oregon and Clear Creek, Idaho to combat wild fires. Simultaneously it sourced the battalion landing teams for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), or MEU (SOC).
In January of 2003, the Fifth Marines deployed to Kuwait to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 21 March, the Regiment became the first unit to cross the line of departure into Iraq as it moved to seize the Rumayllah Oilfields. During the course of the next few weeks, the Regiment repeatedly distinguished itself in combat actions as it continued the offensive to liberate Baghdad and collapse the regime of Saddam Hussein. During much of the attack north, the Regiment led the 1st Marine Division in the deepest attack in Marine Corps history.
Today, the Regiment continues to participate in exercises and contingency deployments with the 1st Marine Division, and to prepare forces for deployment with the 31st MEU (SOC). Ever ready to answer the nation’s call, the “Fighting Fifth” is recognized as the Marine Corps’ most highly decorated regiment.