By Battery Gadsden for The Island Connection
Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for two young women who were swimming off the shore near Station 18 ½ on Sullivan’s Island. When a sudden storm swept them 200 yards out to sea, a vacationing Clemson student dove into the turbulent waters near the jetties. In a 30-minute battle against the ocean currents he brought them safely ashore. For his heroic actions on July 13, 1928, 19-year-old Aquilla “Jimmie” Dyess was awarded the Carnegie Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award for heroism.
Remarkably, as a Marine Lieutenant Colonel in World War II, Jimmie Dyess became a hero for a second time. On Feb. 1, 1944, Dyess led his 800 Marines in storming the beach on Roi Namur, Kwajalein Atoll. That evening he went behind enemy lines to rescue trapped and wounded marines. He ultimately lost his life leading the successful attack on enemy pillboxes. For these acts of exceptional leadership and heroism, Dyess was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. To this day, Dyess remains the only American to have earned both America’s highest civilian award and highest military award for heroism. On Aug. 9, 2022, at 9 a.m., at Station 18 ½ on Sullivan’s Island, there will be a special event to unveil a two-sided marker that commemorates the heroism of Jimmie Dyess, twice a hero. In attendance will be members of the Dyess family, Medal of Honor recipients, and representatives from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Clemson University, and the Boy Scouts. The featured speaker will be Medal of Honor recipient Major General Jim Livingston, U.S. Marine Corps.
The event is co-sponsored locally by Battery Gadsden Cultural Center