Veterans Voice: Wesley L. Fox
Wesley L. Fox achieved the rank of colonel in the Marine Corps, and is considered one of the Marine's legendary heroes.
Wesley was born on a farm in Virginia. He quit school in the 8th grade with the intention of being a farmer.
But when the Korean War began, Wesley enlisted in the Marines, inspired by cousins who served during WW2. He intended to serve 4 years, then return home to the farm.
Wesley trained at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, and was assigned to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina as a rifleman.
He went to Korea in January of 1951 with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. He was promoted to Corporal in March and was wounded in action in September. He was sent to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and was awarded the Bronze Star with a Combat “V”. After discharge from the hospital, he was assigned to the Armed Service Police in Washington, D.C. Until 1953 when he was assigned to the Marine Aircraft Group in Japan. He had re-enlisted in the Marines following the Korean War.
He was subsequently assigned to Drill Instructor's School, followed by Recruiters School and assignment to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and became a drill instructor. In December of 1960 he was assigned as a platoon Sergeant with the 1stForce Reconnaissance Company at Camp Pendleton, CA.
Promoted to Gunnery Sergeant, he was assigned to Office of the Provost Marshall, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe, in Paris, France. In May of 1966 he was promoted to first Sergeant and then completed Officer Candidate School, after which he was commissioned as a Marine second Lieutenant. He was subsequently became a platoon commander with the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company at Camp Lejeune.
In September of 1967 Wesley was assigned to Vietnam as an executive officer of a South Vietnamese Marine Battalion. In November of 1968 he was reassigned to Vietnam as company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines.
On February 22, 1969, Wesley and his troops were involved in Operation Dewey Canyon in the Quang Tri Province, in the northern A Shau Valley. Fox’s company came under intense fire from a large and entrenched enemy force.
Fox maneuvered to a position where he could assess the situation, confer with his platoon leaders and develop a plan of action. As they departed to execute the devised plan, the enemy attacked in force. Fox was wounded, as were all other members of the command group. Fox was to be wounded twice during the engagement. Despite his wounds, he personally destroyed one enemy emplacement and continued to direct his men. The group’s executive officer was mortally wounded, and Fox, as a First Lieutenant took command. He ordered assaults on other enemy emplacements and directed fire on the enemy. He moved at great risk throughout the engagement area, calling in airstrikes, and directing a grenade assault on the enemy which drove the enemy into retreat. It was during this time that he received his second wound. He refused medical attention and supervised the preparation of casualties for medical evacuation.
His Medal of Honor citation says “His indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger inspired his Marines to such aggressive action that they overcame all enemy resistance and destroyed a large bunker complex. Captain (new promotion) Fox’s heroic actions reflect great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and uphold the highest tradition of the U.S. Naval Service.
Colonel Fox earned the following medals: Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit with 1 Gold Star, Purple Heart with 3 Gold Stars, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, along with many others.
Colonel Fox took mandatory retirement in September of 1993, but continued to wear the uniform as Deputy Commandant of cadets for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He wrote a book, “Marine Rifleman: Forty Years in the Corps”.
Colonel Fox passed away November 24th, 2017, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.