Charles Coolidge was born in 1921 in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. The Army drafted him in 1942. He went to Fort McClellan, Alabama for basic training. After completing basic training, he served with M Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. In 1943, he went to Algeria to fight in the North Africa Campaign.
In 1944, Coolidge went to fight in Italy and received a Silver Star for his actions there. On Oct. 24, 1944, Coolidge reconnoitered positions for coordinating machine gun fire near Hill 623 in Belmont sur Buttant, France. However, he ran into an enemy force estimated to be the size of an infantry company. Coolidge then attempted to bluff the enemy force by calling on them to surrender, but the enemy opened fire. Coolidge immediately assumed command of his section and began to direct fire. Over the course of four days, the superiorly armed enemy continued to mount attacks against Coolidge’s team. Coolidge and his section of machine gunners repeatedly repelled the attacks, and when it came time, he coordinated an orderly retreat. For his actions, Coolidge received a Medal of Honor in 1945.
The Army honorably discharged Coolidge in 1945. He returned to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to work at his family business which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. A highway and a park in Tennessee have been named after him. In 2006, the French government awarded him the Légion d’honneur.
As of March 2020, Coolidge is one of two living World War II Medal of Honor recipients.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Michelle Cannon