Rank and organization:   Pharmacist's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy.
10 June 1921, Columbia, Tenn.
Accredited to:   Tennessee.
Citation:   For conspicuous
gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the
call of duty as Platoon Corpsman serving with the 3d Battalion, 27th Marines,
5th Marine Division, during operations against enemy Japanese forces on
Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 28 February 1945. Constantly imperiled by artillery
and mortar fire from strong and mutually supporting pillboxes and caves
studding Hill 362 in the enemy's cross-island defenses, Willis resolutely
administered first aid to the many marines wounded during the furious close-in
fighting until he himself was struck by shrapnel and was ordered back to
the battle-aid station. Without waiting for official medical release, he
quickly returned to his company and, during a savage hand-to-hand enemy
counterattack, daringly advanced to the extreme frontlines under mortar
and sniper fire to aid a marine Iying wounded in a shellhole. Completely
unmindful of his own danger as the Japanese intensified their attack, Willis
calmly continued to administer blood plasma to his patient, promptly returning
the first hostile grenade which landed in the shell-hole while he was working
and hurling back 7 more in quick succession before the ninth 1 exploded
in his hand and instantly killed him. By his great personal valor in saving
others at the sacrifice of his own life, he inspired his companions, although
terrifically outnumbered, to launch a fiercely determined attack and repulse
the enemy force. His exceptional fortitude and courage in the performance
of duty reflect the highest credit upon Willis and the U.S. Naval Service.
He gallantly gave his life for his country.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)