One of my new year’s resolution was to start honoring more heroes and raise more awareness of what these real heroes have done for our freedom.
No actors,musicians,athletes, or reality tv stars but real heroes who sacrificed themselves for the betterment of others.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert George Cole (March 19, 1915 – September 18, 1944) was an American soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the days following the D-Day Normandy invasion of World War II.The 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions were the first to jump into occupied France and cease certain important areas. An important part of the invasion, was to capture Carentan. Carentan the link between Utah and Omaha beach.
On 10 June Cole and his 3-502 PIR were moving up the causeway in between St. Come-du-Mont and Carentan. Trying to capture territory over the Germans. Close to the outskirts of Carentan, the Germans had a well defended position in the hedgerows near the Ingouf farm. While moving up the causeway, Cole’s men had to move through intense enemy fire, causing a lot of casualties in their ranks. The causeway is now nicknamed ‘Purple heart lane’.
At the end of the causeway, the Germans placed some obstacles, which acted as a bottleneck for Cole’s paratroopers. Slowly advancing, the paratroopers finally got into positions at the last bridge over the Madeleine river leading up to Carentan. Only 265 men of the initial 400 from third battalion were left and prepared for an assault on the farm. With the Germans in well defended positions and their fire still suppressing the paratroopers, Robert Cole had to make a difficult decision. He ordered his men to fix bayonets and prepare for a bayonet charge.
Robert Cole, like many other Airborne commanders, led from the front and ran with his men towards the hedgerows. The attack didn’t start out to well, but some of the men from H-502 PIR started running to the German positions together with Cole, getting more men from other companies moving too. More and more men got motivated to participate in the push. While Cole kept firing his .45 pistol in the direction of the German defenders, the attacking force reached the German lines and got into hand-to-hand combat, finally overpowering the enemy. Cole’s charge proved costly, leaving him with 130 of the 265 men. Cole set up defensive positions at the Ingouf farm and called for 1-502 PIR to support his exhausted troops. For the bayonet charge and his efforts that day Cole was to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest American medal a soldier can earn. Sadly, Cole did not live to see it.
LTC Cole was recommended for a Medal of Honor for his actions that day, but did not live to receive it.
On September 18, 1944, during Operation Market Garden, Colonel Cole, commanding the 3rd Battalion of the 502d PIR in Best, Netherlands, got on the radio. A pilot asked him to put some orange identification panels in front of his position. Cole decided to do it himself. For a moment, Cole raised his head, shielding his eyes to see the plane. Suddenly a shot was fired by a German sniper in a farmhouse only 300 yards away, killing Cole instantly.
Two weeks later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bayonet charge near Carentan on June 11. As his widow and two-year-old son looked on, Cole’s mother accepted his posthumous award on the parade ground, where Cole had played as a child, at Fort Sam Houston.
LTC Cole is buried at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, in Margraten, the Netherlands.
Medal of Honor citation
“For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty on 11 June 1944, in France. Lt. Col. Cole was personally leading his battalion in forcing the last 4 bridges on the road to Carentan when his entire unit was suddenly pinned to the ground by intense and withering enemy rifle, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire placed upon them from well-prepared and heavily fortified positions within 150 yards of the foremost elements. After the devastating and unceasing enemy fire had for over 1 hour prevented any move and inflicted numerous casualties, Lt. Col. Cole, observing this almost hopeless situation, courageously issued orders to assault the enemy positions with fixed bayonets. With utter disregard for his own safety and completely ignoring the enemy fire, he rose to his feet in front of his battalion and with drawn pistol shouted to his men to follow him in the assault. Catching up a fallen man’s rifle and bayonet, he charged on and led the remnants of his battalion across the bullet-swept open ground and into the enemy position. His heroic and valiant action in so inspiring his men resulted in the complete establishment of our bridgehead across the Douve River. The cool fearlessness, personal bravery, and outstanding leadership displayed by Lieutenant Colonel Cole reflect great credit upon himself and are worthy of the highest praise in the military service”
Dear Sir I salute you.
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