Lewis Bausell was born in Pulaski County, Virginia on April 17, 1924, to parents Lawrence Kent Bausell and Margaret Lewis Baugh Bausell. A few years later, the family moved to Washington, D.C, where Lewis attended McKinley High School. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lewis tried enlisting in the Navy but was accepted in the Marine Corps on December 15, 1941. With six months training under his belt, he was then sent to the Pacific. Serving with the 1st Marine Division, he participated in the campaigns at Tulagi, Gavutu, Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester.
On September 15, 1944, Lewis and the 1st Marine Division invaded Japanese-controlled Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands in the Pacific. Lewis was assigned to a unit that was to clear out some of the many enemy caves on the island. One cave proved to be deadly for Lewis. Second Lieutenant Jack Kimble stood at the mouth of one end, using a flame thrower to force out any Japanese soldiers through the other end to Lewis and two of his men. While two of Kimble’s men fired into the cave, a Japanese soldier rushed out holding a live grenade, which exploded injuring the two men. Seconds later, another Japanese soldier appeared and threw a grenade at Lewis and other soldiers. Lewis, without regard for his own safety, flung himself onto the explosive, saving the lives of the other men. He died three days later aboard a hospital ship. For his bravery in action, Corporal Bausell was awarded the Medal of Honor. The medal was presented to his parents in Washington, D.C., by Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, on June 11, 1945.
We honor Corporal Lewis Bausell at the Virginia War Memorial by keeping his story of bravery and sacrifice alive through education and programs. His name is listed among all the Virginia heroes whose names are etched in the glass and stone wall in the Shrine of Memory.