California Stories

Lewis E. Meyer, San Diego

(Nominated by Ulysses Miller, Jr.)
March 13, 2011

Lewis Meyer, a San Diego native, joined the U.S. Army to serve our Nation’s military effort in Korea and later returned from the Korean conflict in 1954 to become a Civilian Firefighter and ultimately Fire Captain at the Miramar Naval Air Station. He again served overseas in 1964 as Fire Chief of the Cub Point Naval Air Station in the Philippines. In 1967, Chief Meyer volunteered to serve in South Vietnam as a Fire Protection Specialist and was captured in 1968 by the North Vietnamese during the Tet Offensive. He was held as a Prisoner of War for the next five years, during which he was beaten and held in solitary confinement for two years. During that time, he never lost sight of the Military Code of Conduct and served as an inspiration to his fellow Prisoners of War. In March 1973, Chief Meyer was marched out of the Hanoi Hilton and to freedom as part of “Operation Homecoming” and returned to his duties a Fire Officer for the Department of Defense. He was honored with the “Exemplary Career Award” in 2004 and an inscription on the “Wall of Honor” in the Pentagon’s new wing, rebuilt after the original section was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. In 2010 he finally received two Purple Hearts and the Prisoner of War medal from those terrible days 40 years ago as a Prisoner of War. On December 7, 2010, the City of San Diego, California, recognized December 7th as “Lew Meyer Day” in the City. Today, Lewis Meyer is still serving as the First Responder Coordinator for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 0049, where he is recognized as a true American hero, an ordinary man who inspired his comrades and his Nation during extraordinary times.