God has called home another member of the Greatest Generation, Lucian Russell (Russ) Rawls, Jr. He was born 26 September 1926 in his venerated city of Charleston, SC. He passed into the hands of God peacefully and surrounded by members of his family on Wednesday, 11 July 2018 at his home in Beaufort.
Col. Rawls graduated from Porter Military Academy (PMA, now The Porter-Gaud School) in Charleston in May 1944 as a Distinguished Military Graduate. He received his direct appointment to U.S. Army Infantry Officer Candidate School a few days after turning 18 the following September. He considered PMA the foundation for his career as an Army officer. He joined the PMA Alumni Association (PMAAA) when it was formally established in 1986 and remained a dedicated and active PMA alumnus for over 30 years. He described The Reverend Anthony Toomer Porter, PMA founder, as his greatest hero.
When his Country called him to war, Col. Rawls responded and served honorably in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam. As an 18-year-old 2nd Lieutenant – Infantry, he served the concluding months of WWII in the Philippines. He joined the 86th Infantry Division at Marikina, just north of Manila, and then the 342nd INF Regiment and the Mindanao Task Force; he became a Company Commander at age 19. After and inter-war period in the U.S., then-Lieutenant Rawls was posted to the 5th RCT at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and was there when the Korean War erupted. His unit was one of the first sent to Korea, landing at Pusan, Korean on 29 July 1950. He was wounded on 13 August 1950, earning The Purple Heart. Shortly after his return, he took over command of Company E when its commander was wounded on 29 January 1951 during the first UN counteroffensive. While leading his infantry company at one point in an attack on a particularly determined series of enemy fortifications, one of his 3rd Platoon Leader, 2ndLt. Carl Dodd, led an attack and prevailed in such a ferocious action that 2ndLt Dodd was awarded the Medal of Honor. In a separate event, Col. Rawls was moving about his lines one night, armed only with his pistol. He heard movement around him and realized that he was surrounded by a squad of Chinese soldiers who were unaware of his presence. Col. Rawls knelt in the darkness and quietly waited for the enemy soldiers to move out of the area, then returned to his own unit, unscathed. Subsequently, he continued to answer his Country’s call to serve with two tours of duty in Viet Nam (1963, 1973).
He married the love of his life, Wren Heath Gregorie on 24 October 1947 at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Together they traveled the world with the U.S. Army, including tours of duty in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; USAR Training Center in Chattanooga, TN; Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Ft. Benning GA; 12th INF Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Germany; Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS; HQ 2nd Army (G-3), Fort Meade, MD; U.S. 3rd INF Regiment (The Old Guard), Fort Myer, VA; Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA; US Strike Command, McDill AFB, Tampa, FL; 101st Airborne Division, Ft. Campbell, KY; Army Staff and War Plans Division, The Pentagon, Washington, DC; The Naval War College, Newport, RI; Commander, 1st Basic Combat Training Brigade, Chief of Staff, Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. He retired on 1 July 1975, after 31 years of service.
Col. Rawls earned a BS in Government and History from the University of Maryland and a MS in International Relations from George Washington University. He also attended the Armed Forces Staff College and was a Distinguished Graduate and faculty member of The Naval War College.
Not one to sit idle after retirement from the U.S. Army, Russ quickly started a second career as the President & CEO of a private not-for-profit organization, The Family Service Center, until his final retirement in 1993. He was active with St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Columbia. In 1999, he and Wren moved to Beaufort and joined the parish of St. Helena, which produced the happiest years of their life. A lifelong learner, man of faith, devoted family man, and lover of military history, Russ was involved in numerous organizations and activities, including the Sons of the American Revolution, Fort Sumter Trust, Jamestown Society, The Old Guard Association, Kiwanis Club, Docent at St. Helena, Guardian Ad Litem, Stephen Minister, Thursday Club, GEMs (God’s Elderly Men), SC Historical Society, and coin collecting. He often said his greatest challenge was having too many interests.
He is survived by his children, Lucian Russell Rawls III (Luke) and Lucia Rawls Schoelwer (Michael), both of White Stone, VA, and Gregorie Matthew Rawls of Beaufort, SC; his brother Walton Rawls (Brenda) of Atlanta, GA, as well as numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be on Friday, 20 July, at 10 a.m. at The Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort. There will be a reception at St. Helena’s following the service. The family will be receiving at home, 11-A Rising Tide Dr., Beaufort, 5-8pm on Thursday, 19 July.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations or memorials to either the Parish Church of St. Helena – Post Office Box 1043, Beaufort, South Carolina 29902 or to The Porter Military Academy Alumni Association – 300 Albemarle Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29407.