Preserving the culture of art and history on Sullivan’s Island

The Heroism of Jimmie Dyess at Sullivan’s Island and in Combat

Sunrise Presbyterian Church on Sullivan's Island was the venue on Thursday, August 19, 2021 for a fascinating presentation by Air Force Maj. Gen. (ret.) Perry M. Smith.

Gen. Perry SmithGen. Smith, who is himself a combat veteran, author and military analyst, spoke on the life and deeds of Jimmie Dyess, who was "twice a hero." Dyess, who was Gen. Smith's father-in-law, was first awarded the Carnegie Life-Saving Medal in 1928 for rescuing two drowning swimmers off of Station 18-1/2 on Sullivan's Island. Gen. Smith related the history of this medal and the episode for which Jimmie earned it.

Later, as Marine Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess, he was awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in the Marshall Islands during World War II. As far as is known, Dyess is the only person to have been awarded both of these medals.

Gen. Smith has done much to perpetuate the memory of Jimmie Dyess, in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, and elsewhere. Currently he is working with Battery Gadsden Cultural Center to erect a memorial marker near where Jimmie's heroic feat took place on Sullivan's Island.

Perry Smith is a marvelous speaker who captivated the audience of about 75 with not only the Dyess story but also some of his own experiences. Gen. Smith provided audience members with complimentary copies of his book on Jimmie Dyess and signed them during the reception that followed.

Learn more about Gen. Smith, and find the books he has authored, via the Super Sabre Society website:

Jimmie Dyess Marker Ceremony

Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess

Recently, BGCC was honored to be the co-sponsor for a very special event held on Sullivan's Island. It was the unveiling ceremony for the newest historical marker on the island, one that honors a unique individual… Jimmie Dyess. He is the only person ever to be awarded both the Carnegie Medal, the highest civilian award for heroism, as well as the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for bravery in combat.Carolina Day 2022

The life-saving event for which Dyess received the Carnegie Medal took place in 1928 off of Station 18 1/2, not too far from where the marker now stands. This beautiful two-sided plaque is the culmination of nearly two years of work and collaboration between Dyess's daughter and son-in-law, Mrs. Connor Dyess Smith and Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith of Augusta, and our BGCC board member, Hal Coste.

The unveiling ceremony took place near the Station 18 1/2 boardwalk on August 9, 2022. Nearly 200 people attended, including many military and civic leaders. Since Dyess's Medal of Honor earning action took place as a U.S. Marine in the South Pacific during World War II, the keynote address was given by Maj. Gen. James Livingston, himself a Marine and Medal of Honor recipient. Look for a more complete story of Jimmie Dyess and the marker that honors him soon on our website. In the meantime, take the opportunity to walk down the Station 18 1/2 beach path and read about this incredible human being.

If you or someone you know has “a story to tell” about their or their family's connection to Sullivan's Island, please put them in touch with Battery Gadsden Cultural Center at: