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WILSON, ALFRED MAC
WILSON, ALFRED MAC (1948–1969). Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Alfred Mac Wilson was born in Olney, Illinois, on January 13, 1948, the second child to Fred and Edna (O’Neal) Wilson. The Wilson family moved to Odessa, Texas, in 1950. Growing up in Texas, Wilson preferred being called “Mac” to Alfred. Active in numerous clubs, he also was a member of the high school football and track teams. Wilson graduated from Odessa Senior High School in 1967. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in Abilene on November 1, 1967.
After completing recruit training, individual combat training, and basic infantry training, Private First Class (PFC) Wilson was assigned to the First Marine Division in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, in July 1968. In September, Wilson was reassigned to Company M, Third Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division. In early 1969 as part of Operation Dewey Canyon, the Ninth Marines sought to prevent North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces from using their sanctuaries along the A Shau Valley near the Laotian border. On March 3, 1969 (the final day of Operation Dewey Canyon), PFC Wilson’s platoon came under intense fire from a NVA force. Taking charge of the squad, Wilson directed his men to form a fire base. After both his machine gunner and his assistant were wounded, Wilson and another marine moved rapidly to recover the weapon under intense fire, but after they reached the machine gun, an enemy grenade landed on the ground between Wilson and his companion. Wilson threw himself on the grenade and absorbed the force of the explosion that took his life. His actions inspired the rest of the platoon to attack and defeat the enemy force.
PFC Alfred “Mac” Wilson was returned to Odessa and buried in the Sunset Memorial Gardens. Three months after his death on June 6, 1969, Wilson’s fifty-two-year-old mother Edna Wilson died of a heart attack and was buried next to her son. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew presented the Medal of Honor to PFC Wilson’s father Fred Wilson and sister Marilyn Sue at the White House on April 20, 1970.
In early 2008 a drive began in Odessa to honor the young Texas hero of the Vietnam War. On July 8, 2008, Texas Congressman Michael Conaway introduced legislation to name the Odessa post office after Corporal Wilson. On February 5, 2009, Mayor Larry Melton, Congressman Conaway, and about 200 people participated in a ceremony in which the post office in Odessa was officially dedicated the Corporal Alfred “Mac” Wilson Post Office Building.
Terence W. Barrett, The Search for the Forgotten Thirty-Four: Honored by the U.S. Marines, Unheralded in Their Hometowns? (Fargo, ND: CreateSpace, 2011). Odessa American, February 6, 2009. “Private First Class Alfred M. Wilson, USMC (Deceased)” Who’s Who in Marine Corps History, United States Marine Corps History Division (https://www.mcu.usmc.mil/historydivision/Pages/Who%27s%20Who/V-X/wilson_am.aspx), accessed November 14, 2013.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Henry Franklin Tribe, "WILSON, ALFRED MAC," accessed September 20, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwilk.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 24, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.