Private James H. Mills
 only recipient of the Medal of Honor
Polk County,Florida

PVT. James H.Mills

  James Henry Mills (May 2, 1923 - November 11, 1973) was the only Polk County, Florida native to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II.
  Private Mills earned the Medal of Honor in 1944 for demonstrating
"conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and
beyond the call of duty." Mills actions allowed his platoon to take its
objective without casualties.
  Mills lost his life twenty-nine years later at
the hands of a thief posing as a stranded motorist, whom Mills had stopped to assist, near Gainesville, Florida on November 11, 1973.
  James H. Mills
was laid to rest at Oak Hill Burial Park Cemetery in Lakeland, Florida.
  A memorial can be found on the grounds of the Lakeland Center in Memorial Park, on the side of the Lakeland Center facing Lake Beulah.
The Medal of Honor Citation for James Henry Mills

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company F, 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy, May 24, 1944.


  For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Pvt. Mills, undergoing his baptism of fire, preceded his platoon down a draw to reach a position from which an attack could be launched against a heavily fortified strongpoint.
 After advancing about 300
yards, Pvt. Mills was fired on by a machinegun only 5 yards distant. He killed the gunner with 1 shot and forced the surrender of the assistant gunner. Continuing his advance, he saw a German soldier in a camouflaged position behind a large bush pulling the pin of a potato-masher grenade.
 Covering the German with his rifle, Pvt. Mills forced him to drop the
grenade and captured him. When another enemy soldier attempted to throw a hand grenade into the draw, Pvt. Mills killed him with 1 shot. Brought under fire by a machinegun, 2 machine pistols, and 3 rifles at a range of only 50 feet, he charged headlong into the furious chain of automatic fire shooting his M 1 from the hip. The enemy was completely demoralized by Pvt. Mills' daring charge, and when he reached a point within 10 feet of their position, all 6 surrendered. As he neared the end of the draw, Pvt. Mills was brought under fire by a machinegunner 20 yards distant. Despite the fact that he had absolutely no cover, Pvt. Mills killed the gunner with 1 shot. Two enemy soldiers near the machinegunner fired wildly at Pvt. Mills and then fled. Pvt. Mills fired twice, killing 1 of the enemy. Continuing on to the position, he captured a fourth soldier. When it became apparent that an assault on the strongpoint would in all probability cause heavy casualties on the platoon, Pvt. Mills volunteered to cover the advance down a shallow ditch to a point within 50 yards of the objective. Standing on the bank in full view of the enemy less than 100 yards away, he shouted and fired his rifle directly into the position.  His ruse worked exactly as planned. The enemy centered his fire on Pvt. Mills. Tracers passed within inches of his body, rifle and machine pistol bullets ricocheted off the rocks at his feet. Yet he stood there firing until his rifle was empty. Intent on covering the movement of his platoon, Pvt. Mills jumped into the draw, reloaded his weapon, climbed out again, and continued to lay down a base of fire.
 Repeating this action 4 times, he enabled his platoon to reach the
designated spot undiscovered, from which position it assaulted and
overwhelmed the enemy, capturing 22 Germans and taking the objective without casualties.

To view the Memorial for PVT.James Henry Mills found at the Lakeland Center- and to view his Memorial burial plot found in Oak Hill Burial Park.
page edited by: Peggy

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