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.