Kentucky USNA 1908 Grad Willis Augustus Lee to be honored

Posted: 7/24/2019

The Louisville Sports Commission operates the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, and 1908 USNA graduate Willis Lee will be inducted in the KSHOF Classs of 2019!

Willis Augustus Lee – A native of Natlee in Owen County and U.S. Naval academy graduate, Willis Lee earned seven medals at the 1920 Olympics as a member of the USA Rifle Team, then went on to a distinguished military career as a vice admiral and war hero in the U.S. Navy. 

At the age of 19 in 1907, he became the only American ever to win both the U.S. National High Power Rifle and Pistol championships in the same year, and in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium, Willis won five Olympic gold, one silver and one bronze – a record for total medals in a single Olympic Games that stood until 1980. 

His medal count: small-bore rifle, standing at 50 meters (gold); free rifle, three positions at 300 meters (gold); military rifle, prone at 300 meters (gold); military rifle, prone at 600 meters (gold); military rifle, prone at 300 meters and 600 meters (gold); military rifle, standing at 300 meters (silver); and running target, single shot (bronze). 

In February 1942, Rear Admiral Lee was assigned to the Pacific Theater and led a task force of American battleships to victory over a larger Japanese force near Guadalcanal that helped turn the tide of war. 

He earned the Navy Cross, the second highest honor awarded by the Navy for extraordinary heroism.