Charles H. Coolidge
Charles Henry Coolidge
|Born||August 4, 1921|
Signal Mountain, Tennessee
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942-1945|
|Unit||3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
French Legion of Honor
Charles Henry Coolidge (born August 4, 1921) is a former United States Army technical sergeant and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration for valor—the Medal of Honor—for his heroism in France during World War II. As of 2019, he is one of only three living Medal of Honor recipients of the war.
Coolidge was born in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, on August 4, 1921, the son of Walter and Grace (McCracken) Coolidge of Chattanooga. He graduated from Chattanooga High School in 1939, and worked at his father's printing business as a bookbinder.
Coolidge was drafted into the U.S. Army on June 16, 1942. He received basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama. He was then sent to Camp Butler, North Carolina, and Camp Edwards in Massachusetts, where he was assigned to M Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. In April 1943, his unit was shipped overseas to Oran in Algeria, to participate in the North Africa Campaign. While serving as a machine gun section leader and sergeant, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, in Italy on May 31, 1944.
On October 24, 1944, Coolidge was a technical sergeant in charge of group of machine-gunners and rifleman of M Company who were to hold a vital hilltop position in France near the German border. During enemy attacks four days and at Hill 623, east of Belmont-sur-Buttant in France, Coolidge and his group held off numerous enemy infantrymen, plus two tanks on October 27 using grenades; one tank unsuccessfully fired 5 separate rounds at Coolidge personally. For his actions above and beyond the call of duty during the battle, Coolidge was presented the Medal of Honor by Lieutenant General Wade H. Haislip during a ceremony at an airfield near Dornstadt, Germany.
Coolidge currently resides near Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a highway and park have been named for him. He still goes to work every day at the family business, Chattanooga Printing & Engraving, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. His son, United States Air Force Lieutenant General Charles H. Coolidge, Jr., retired from the Air Force in June 2004. On September 15, 2006, Coolidge was belatedly awarded the Légion d'honneur by officials of the French consulate at a ceremony in Coolidge Park (named in 1945).
Coolidge's military awards and decorations:
|Army Meritorious Unit Commendation|
Medal of Honor citation
Coolidge's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company M, 141th Infantry, 36th Infantry Division
Place and date: East of Belmont sur Buttant, France, 24–27 October 1944
Entered service at: Signal Mountain, Tenn.
G.O. No. 53, July 1945
Leading a section of heavy machineguns supported by 1 platoon of Company K, he took a position near Hill 623, east of Belmont sur Buttant, France, on October 24, 1944, with the mission of covering the right flank of the 3d Battalion and supporting its action. T/Sgt. Coolidge went forward with a Sergeant of Company K to reconnoiter positions for coordinating the fires of the light and heavy machineguns. They ran into an enemy force in the woods estimated to be an infantry company. T/Sgt. Coolidge, attempting to bluff the Germans by a show of assurance and boldness called upon them to surrender, whereupon the enemy opened fire. With his carbine, T/Sgt. Coolidge wounded 2 of them. There being no officer present with the force, T/Sgt. Coolidge at once assumed command. Many of the men were replacements recently arrived; this was their first experience under fire. T/Sgt. Coolidge, unmindful of the enemy fire delivered at close range, walked along the position, calming and encouraging his men and directing their fire. The attack was thrown back. Through 25 and October 26, the enemy launched repeated attacks against the position of this combat group but each was repulsed due to T/Sgt. Coolidge's able leadership. On October 27, German infantry, supported by 2 tanks, made a determined attack on the position. The area was swept by enemy small arms, machinegun, and tank fire. T/Sgt. Coolidge armed himself with a bazooka and advanced to within 25 yards of the tanks. His bazooka failed to function and he threw it aside. Securing all the hand grenades he could carry, he crawled forward and inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing enemy. Finally it became apparent that the enemy, in greatly superior force, supported by tanks, would overrun the position. T/Sgt. Coolidge, displaying great coolness and courage, directed and conducted an orderly withdrawal, being himself the last to leave the position. As a result of T/Sgt. Coolidge's heroic and superior leadership, the mission of this combat group was accomplished throughout 4 days of continuous fighting against numerically superior enemy troops in rain and cold and amid dense woods.
- In November 2013, Coolidge's was the first one of 12 portraits of Medal of Honor recipients on the cover sheet of a U.S. Postal Service "World War II Medal of Honor Forever Stamp" packet of 20 Medal of Honor stamps.
- WWII Army Enlistment Records
- "September 15, 2006: FRANCE HONORS WWII VETERAN IN CHATTANOOGA". Consulate General of France and French Trade Commission in Atlanta. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "MOH Recipient Charles H. Collidge Is Inducted into the SAR by President General Lindsey C. Brock". SAR.
- "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (A-F)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "Chattanoogan.com gallery of Coolidge". Retrieved September 24, 2010.