Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
July 1920, Flat River, Mo.
Entered service at: Esther, Mo.
Other Navy awards:
Bronze Star Medal.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity
at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving
as leader of a Machinegun Section of Company B, 1st Battalion, 23d Marines,
4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the
assault on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945. Assailed
by a tremendous volume of small-arms, mortar and artillery fire as he advanced
with 1 squad of his section in the initial assault wave, Sgt. Cole boldly
led his men up the sloping beach toward Airfield No. 1 despite the blanketing
curtain of flying shrapnel and, personally destroying with hand grenades
2 hostile emplacements which menaced the progress of his unit, continued
to move forward until a merciless barrage of fire emanating from 3 Japanese
pillboxes halted the advance. Instantly placing his 1 remaining machinegun
in action, he delivered a shattering fusillade and succeeded in silencing
the nearest and most threatening emplacement before his weapon jammed and
the enemy, reopening fire with knee mortars and grenades, pinned down his
unit for the second time. Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation and evolving
a daring plan of counterattack, Sgt. Cole, armed solely with a pistol and
1 grenade, coolly advanced alone to the hostile pillboxes. Hurling his
1 grenade at the enemy in sudden, swift attack, he quickly withdrew, returned
to his own lines for additional grenades and again advanced, attacked,
and withdrew. With enemy guns still active, he ran the gauntlet of slashing
fire a third time to complete the total destruction of the Japanese strong
point and the annihilation of the defending garrison in this final assault.
Although instantly killed by an enemy grenade as he returned to his squad,
Sgt. Cole had eliminated a formidable Japanese position, thereby enabling
his company to storm the remaining fortifications, continue the advance,
and seize the objective. By his dauntless initiative, unfaltering courage,
and indomitable determination during a critical period of action, Sgt.
Cole served as an inspiration to his comrades, and his stouthearted leadership
in the face of almost certain death sustained and enhanced the highest
tradition of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)