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Charles Coolidge (1921–2021), oldest Medal of Honor recipient

by Linnea Crowther

Charles Coolidge was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II who was the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor.

War hero

Coolidge was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1942, just months after the U.S. entered World War II. In was in October 1944 that he earned his Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor in recognition of valor. A sergeant, Coolidge and his men were severely outnumbered by German soldiers in the Vosges Mountains. They fought for days to take Hill 623 as the Germans continued to drive them back. Coolidge bravely led his troops as they held the line for four days of fighting, including dodging five tank rounds that were fired directly at him. He received the Medal of Honor in 1945. Never once injured in the war, Coolidge was also honored with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and French Legion of Honor. After the war, he worked as his family’s business, Chattanooga Printing & Engraving.

What Coolidge said when he was asked to surrender

“I’m sorry, Mac, You’ll have to come and get me.” —from a 2014 interview with the University of Tennessee’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media

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Tributes to Charles Coolidge

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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