b. 24/05/1933 Mountain Home, Arkansas. d. 25/04/1951 Tongmang-ni, Korea.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25/04/1951 Tongmang-ni, Korea.
Born in the community of Colfax near Mountain Home, Arkansas, Gilliland was the second of nine children of Leon Carl and Evangeline Margarite Martin Gilliland. His father was a farmer and construction worker and his mother worked as a nurse's aide. His family moved to nearby Marion County when he was a teenager. Throughout his childhood, Gilliland showed a strong interest in the military and law enforcement, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and in his teenage years was a fitness enthusiast. He attempted to enlist in the Marine Corps at sixteen, but was turned away and advised to continue his education. After much convincing, his parents agreed to let him enlist in the U.S. Army on his 17th birthday, May 24, 1950.
After joining the Army in Yellville, he attended basic training at Fort Riley, Kansas. The Korean War began one month after his enlistment, and by the end of the year he had been sent to east Asia. During his deployment in Korea, he was wounded and, in one instance, carried to safety a fellow soldier who had lost both his legs.
Cpl. Gilliland, a member of Company I, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. A numerically superior hostile force launched a coordinated assault against his company perimeter, the brunt of which was directed up a defile covered by his automatic rifle. His assistant was killed by enemy fire but Cpl. Gilliland, facing the full force of the assault, poured a steady fire into the foe which stemmed the onslaught. When 2 enemy soldiers escaped his raking fire and infiltrated the sector, he leaped from his foxhole, overtook and killed them both with his pistol. Sustaining a serious head wound in this daring exploit, he refused medical attention and returned to his emplacement to continue his defense of the vital defile. His unit was ordered back to new defensive positions but Cpl. Gilliland volunteered to remain to cover the withdrawal and hold the enemy at bay. His heroic actions and indomitable devotion to duty prevented the enemy from completely overrunning his company positions. Cpl. Gilliland's incredible valor and supreme sacrifice reflect lasting glory upon himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.
BURIAL LOCATION: BODY NOT RECOVERED.