Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge has died at the age 99, and it’s a great time to learn about the man’s story.
According to The New York Times, Coolidge passed away Tuesday as the nation’s oldest living recipient of our military’s highest honor. (RELATED: Watching ‘Band Of Brothers‘ Never Gets Old. Here’s Why It’s Such A Great Series)
A harrowing World War II firefight in France brought Charles Coolidge the Medal of Honor. Coolidge, who died on Tuesday, had been the oldest living recipient of the medal. https://t.co/mfVTvGbX7g
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 8, 2021
Admittedly, I hadn’t heard about the WWII hero prior to today, but his story is downright incredible. According to the NYT, Coolidge and 30 fellow American GIs held off German tanks and soldiers in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France as the enemy tried to attack the right flank of the division’s Third Battalion, 141st Infantry.
Wave after wave of German efforts to take Coolidge’s position were held off for days, and there’s one line that specifically stood out in the NYT article.
RIP Charles Coolidge, T Patcher, spoke to him last year. Now just one WWII MOH recipient alive. Managed to interview all four of the last since 2018. The greatest generation has almost gone. pic.twitter.com/qg0rgXUGfF
— alex kershaw (@kershaw_alex) April 8, 2021
During the German assault and facing overwhelming odds, an enemy tank commander shouted in English to Coolidge, “Do you guys wanna give up?”
Coolidge’s response? With ice in his veins, he told the German tank commander, “I’m sorry, Mac, you’ve gotta come and get me,” and the enemy responded by firing five tank rounds at him.
Hamilton County Has lost one of its greatest heroes. It has been a privilege to know Charles Coolidge personally and interact with him throughout the years. The Congressional Medal of Honor winner’s valiant efforts during World War II helped preserve democracy. his time. Mayor C. pic.twitter.com/dX4zLk6rrl
— Hamilton County Government (@HamCoTNGov) April 7, 2021
Eventually after several days of fighting, Coolidge and his teammates were surrounded by Germans as he ordered the Americans to pull back. Eventually they were broken out by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
The Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center mourns the passing of Medal of Honor recipient Charles H. Coolidge. More details will be shared in the coming days about special tributes being planning at the Heritage Center to honor his legacy. pic.twitter.com/xdVdrsuKpo
— National Medal of Honor HC (@moh_chatt) April 7, 2021
His Medal of Honor citation reads in part:
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. TSgt. Coolidge, displaying great coolness and courage, directed and conducted an orderly withdrawal, being himself the last to leave the position. As a result of TSgt. Coolidge’s heroic and superior leadership, the mission of his combat group was accomplished throughout four days of continuous fighting against numerically superior enemy troops in rain and cold and amid dense woods.
I’m damn proud guys like Mr. Coolidge fight for the good guys. Imagine the kind of guys you need to have to be facing down a tank, be given the chance to surrender and instead opting to tell the Germans to come get you.
That’s not a spirit you can teach. You’re either born with it or you’re not.
Last night, our country lost a true patriot.
Charles Coolidge, American hero who received the Medal of Honor in 1945 for his valor in WWII. He was 99 years old and one of only two Medal of Honor recipients remaining from the Greatest Generation. @MohMuseum #medalofhonor pic.twitter.com/sA46FisefV
— Smitty Pignatelli (@repsmitty) April 8, 2021
So, take a moment to learn the story of Charles Coolidge and tell someone else about it today. His memory deserves to be remembered because he’s the definition of an American badass.