Coolidge, Charles Henry.

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Coolidge, Charles Henry, born 04-08-1921 in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, the son of Walter and Grace, born McCracken, Coolidge. Charles had two sisters and one brother. Mary Coolidge Cissna (1916–2010) , an infant Girl (1918–1918) and Walter Parlin Coolidge (1919–2005).

As a child, Charles suffered from a severe speech impediment that made him the butt of schoolyard jokes, and he spent several years learning patience and diligence while working with a family friend who tutored him until he could communicate effectively. Charles Coolidge’s father, Walter, owned and ran a small printing company that would be passed down from generation to generation through the family, and imbued his son with a strong sense of ethics and responsibility. During the trying years of the Great Depression through the 1930s, Walter Coolidge pinched pennies so that he could avoid laying off a single one of his employees, providing them with just enough income so that they could care for their families. This commitment to caring for the less fortunate impressed itself deeply on young Charles, who worked for the family business as a teenager while he attended Chattanooga High School, from which he graduated in 1939. For the next two years, Charles Coolidge applied himself to the family business and became a master bookbinder—a profession he would pursue for the remainder of his working life. On 07-12-1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the United States entered World War II. Coolidge had never heard of Pearl Harbor before, but he had expected for a long time that America would get involved in the war and that he would have to fight. When someone asked him back in 1939 why he didn’t go to college, eighteen-year-old Coolidge quipped, “It don’t take any smart individual to go over there and shoot Germans!” Still, Coolidge did not enter service until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1942, and went for basic training to Fort McClellan, Alabama.

Coolidge was drafted into the United States Army on 16-06-1942. Charles received basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama. He was then sent to Camp Butner, North Carolina and Camp Edwards in Massachusetts, where he was assigned to M Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th “Texas” Infantry Division.   under command of Major General Fred Livingood Walker The casualities of the 36th Division during the European campaign, were: total battle casualities 19.466, killed in action 3131, wounded in acton 13.191, missing in action 494 and prisoner of war 2.650. General Walker survived the war and died 06-10-1969 (aged 82) in Washington, D.C.

In April 1943, Charles’s unit was shipped overseas to Oran in Algeria, and in September took part in the Salerno landings and then continued to fight in the first half of the Italian campaign. In August 1944 the “Texas” Division landed in southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. The advance toward the French border with Germany was a “picnic” for Coolidge and his men as enemy resistance melted away—until they reached the Vosges Mountains. There, on October 22, Coolidge led twenty-seven men up an eminence called Hill 623. German troops occupied a heavily wooded hill nearby, and applied constant pressure on the Americans, partly to prevent them from linking with the 141st Regiment’s 1st Battalion—the “Lost Battalion”—which became cut off and surrounded a short distance away on October 24. While serving as a machine gun section leader and sergeant, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action in Italy on 31-05-1944, shortly before the capture of Rome.

On 24-10-1944, Coolidge was a technical sergeant in charge of a group of machine-gunners and riflemen of M Company, who were to hold a vital hilltop position in France near the German border. During four days of attacks at Hill 623, east of Belmont-sur-Buttant in the Vosges Mountains in France,

Coolidge and his group held off numerous enemy infantrymen, plus two tanks on October 27 using grenades. One tank unsuccessfully fired five separate rounds directly at Coolidge. For his actions above and beyond the call of duty during the battle, Coolidge was presented the Medal of Honor by Lieutenant General Wade Hampton “Ham”. Haislip

  during a ceremony at an airfield near Dornstadt, Germany on 18-06-1945.

Coolidge resided near Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a highway and park have been named for him. For many years after the war, Coolidge went to work every day at the family business, Chattanooga Printing & Engraving, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. His son, Charles H. Coolidge Jr. , is a retired Lieutenant General of the United States Air Force. On 15-09-2006, Coolidge was awarded the Legion of Honour by officials of the French consulate at a ceremony in Coolidge Park (named in 1945).

Death and burial ground of Coolidge, Charles Henry.

Coolidge was inducted into the John Sevier Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in March 2015. He was conferred with the George Marshall Award in March 2021, several weeks before his death. Coolidge married Frances Seepe in 1945. They remained married for 64 years until her death in 2009. They had three children: Charles, William (Bill), and John. Frances Coolidge died 16-05- 2009 (age 86) in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee.

Coolidge died on 06-04-2021, in Chattanooga at the age of 99. He had suffered from multiple sclerosis in the final 50+ years of his life..In combating the illness, he showed the same dedication, calmness, deep faith, and good humor that had motivated him during the war. Despite this, and his preference to avoid publicity, Coolidge understood the continuing importance of his example to others and was a dedicated member of his community. Charles Henry was interred at Chattanooga National Cemetery beside his wife. Section BB, Site 474-A

   

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