Oldest MoH recipient, Charles Coolidge passes away; Age 99

| April 9, 2021

T/Sgt Charles Coolidge

Poetrooper sends in the sad news that Charles Coolidge has passed at the age of 99 on 6 April. He was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and one of only two still alive from WWII. He was the last MoH recipient from the European Theater of the war. As you can see from the picture, Coolidge also earned a Silver Star for gallantry in action. That award was earned in Italy in May 1944. He’d earn the Medal of Honor later that year in France.

The Daily Caller presents Coolidge’s heroics;

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.

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.

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.

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.

Coolidge went back home to work in the family business Chattanooga Printing & Engraving in Tennessee after the war. He married in 1945 and remained married for 64 (!) years until his wife Frances passed away in 2009. They had three children, all boys. His son Charles Coolidge Jr (b. 1946) followed his father into military service. He used that little known and rarely used free ticket to a military academy for children of a Medal of Honor recipient to attend the US Air Force Academy. Charles Jr. retired after 36 years of service as a lieutenant general.

Godspeed Tech Sergeant Coolidge. You’ve more than earned your eternal reward.

Category: Army, Army News, Guest Link, Medal of Honor, Real Soldiers, Valor, We Remember

Comments (10)

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  1. MustangCryppie says:

    Rest in peace, TSgt Coolidge!

  2. OWB says:

    Thank you, sir. May your family find peace.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    May the road rise to meet him, and the wind be always at his back.

  4. The Stranger says:

    God speed, TSgt. Coolidge.

  5. David says:

    God rest ye, sir. Same age as Prince Phillip who also died.

  6. Ex Coelis says:

    Thank you and God rest you, Sir

  7. Green Thumb says:

    Rest well, TSgt Coolidge.

    Thank you for your service and commitment to our country and your family.

  8. KoB says:

    “…you gotta come and get me.” Hardcore! Probably caught those tank rounds they fired and throwed ’em back at the enemy. BZ T Sgt Coolidge, Godspeed and Farewell, Good Sir!

    I look forward to meeting this Warrior on The Other Side.

  9. Poetrooper says:

    Ol’ Poe just learned something very interesting–Coolidge’s hometown, Chattanooga was the area where the very first MoH was earned by Private Jacob Parrott for his part in the “The Great Locomotive Chase” that ended just outside that city during the Civil War.

    Because of that, Coolidge, who was a man of some means, was instrumental in the creation of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center which is named for him. They have a very nice website which is also very informative:

    https://www.mohhc.org/

  10. Jay says:

    Pretty wild his son retired as a 3 star in the AF….and STILL rendered a hand salute to his father.

    Rest In Peace TSgt Coolidge, you’ve certainly earned it.