Posts made in December, 2015

Charles H. Coolidge

Posted on Dec 15, 2015

Charles H. Coolidge

Charles H. Coolidge

Charles Henry Coolidge (born August 4, 1921) is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration “the Medal of Honor” for his actions in World War II.

Biography

Coolidge joined the Army from his birth city of Signal Mountain, Tennessee in June 1942, and by October 24, 1944, was serving as a technical sergeant in Company M, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. During an enemy attack on that day and the following three days, east of Belmont-sur-Buttant in France, Coolidge assumed command of his group and showed conspicuous leadership. For his actions during the battle, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in July 1945.

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 and Engraving, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. On September 15, 2006, he was belatedly awarded the L├ęgion d’honneur by officials of the French consulate at a ceremony in Coolidge Park .

Coolidge was inducted into the John Sevier Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in March 2015.

Medal of Honor citation

Technical Sergeant Coolidge’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Leading a section of heavy machine guns 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 machine guns. 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, machine gun, 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.

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Francis Junior Pierce

Posted on Dec 1, 2015

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Francis Junior Pierce (December 7, 1924-December 21, 1986) was a United States Navy Corpsman who received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Biography

Early years and military service

Pierce was born on December 7, 1924 and grew up in Delaware County, Iowa. A week after his 17th birthday (the day Pearl Harbor was attacked), he enlisted in the Navy. After his initial training at Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois he trained to become a hospital corpsman and then joined Marine Corps combat infantry training.

Pierce was assigned to the 4th Marine Division where he participated in numerous military campaigns including Saipan and Tinian. During Iwo Jima, he helped in caring for wounded Marines and became one of four corpsman to receive the Medal during the battle, although he was initially awarded the Navy Cross.
Retirement

In December 1945, Pierce was discharged from the Navy. After a brief stay in his hometown of Earlville, Iowa he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. There, he married a young woman named Lorraine whom he had been communicating with during the war and joined the Grand Rapids Police Department. He also briefly served in the Michigan National Guard from May 1949 to November 1950.

In 1948, Pierce was informed that his Navy Cross was being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. He was presented with the Medal in a White House Rose Garden ceremony by President Harry S. Truman.

In civilian life, Pierce had two sons with his wife Lorraine. After she died, he married Madelyn Mellema and had two daughters. He served a long distinctive career in the police, carrying out many duties such as being the head of the vice squad and being a bomb disposal expert. He eventually became deputy chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department in 1972, and retired in 1982. Francis Pierce died of lung cancer in 1986.

Legacy

A special memorial scholarship was established by the Marine Corps in his name to honor Navy Corpsmen.

Medal of Honor citation

Pierce, Francis Junior
Rank and organization:Pharmacist’s Mate First Class
Place and date:U.S. Navy serving with 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division
Entered service at:Earlville, Iowa
Born:December 7, 1924
Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, during the Iwo Jima campaign, 15 and 16 March 1945. Almost continuously under fire while carrying out the most dangerous volunteer assignments, Pierce gained valuable knowledge of the terrain and disposition of troops. Caught in heavy enemy rifle and machinegun fire which wounded a corpsman and 2 of the 8 stretcher bearers who were carrying 2 wounded marines to a forward aid station on 15 March, Pierce quickly took charge of the party, carried the newly wounded men to a sheltered position, and rendered first aid. After directing the evacuation of 3 of the casualties, he stood in the open to draw the enemy’s fire and, with his weapon blasting, enabled the litter bearers to reach cover. Turning his attention to the other 2 casualties he was attempting to stop the profuse bleeding of 1 man when a Japanese fired from a cave less than 20 yards away and wounded his patient again. Risking his own life to save his patient, Pierce deliberately exposed himself to draw the attacker from the cave and destroyed him with the last of his ammunition Then lifting the wounded man to his back, he advanced unarmed through deadly rifle fire across 200 feet of open terrain. Despite exhaustion and in the face of warnings against such a suicidal mission, he again traversed the same fire-swept path to rescue the remaining marine. On the following morning, he led a combat patrol to the sniper nest and, while aiding a stricken Marine, was seriously wounded. Refusing aid for himself, he directed treatment for the casualty, at the same time maintaining protective fire for his comrades. Completely fearless, completely devoted to the care of his patients, Pierce inspired the entire battalion. His valor in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

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