When A. James Dyess—“Jimmie”—was an undergraduate at Clemson (S.C.) Agricultural College, now Clemson University, he helped to save a woman from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean off Sullivans Island, S.C. Then 19, he received America’s top award for heroism by a civilian, the Carnegie Medal. Sixteen years later, Marine Lt. Col. Dyess led his battalion into combat against the Japanese, going behind enemy lines to save four wounded Marines at Roi-Namur in the Pacific’s Marshall Islands. The next day, Dyess was killed as he led his troops against an enemy machine gun position. For his extraordinary valor and leadership in combat, he received the Medal of Honor.
Dyess is the only person to have received both top honors for heroism. The story of his life of service and self-sacrifice has been captured by Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith (ret.), U.S. Air Force, of Augusta, Ga., in Courage, Compassion, Marine: The Unique Story of Jimmie Dyess, iUniverse, 2015. Smith, who is Dyess’s son-in-law, is also the author of Assignment Pentagon, Rules and Tools for Leaders, and How CNN Fought the War.
“This nation is well served by these two awards,” Smith writes. “The military services and the Carnegie Hero Fund commissioners are to be congratulated for ensuring that these awards remain at such a high standard and that those few who earn them fully deserve to be so honored.”
Copies of the book are available through Amazon.