Monday, March 14, 2016

Medal of Honor Monday: Michael Colalillo


"Private First Class Mike Colalillo, 2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Co. C, 1st Battalion, 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division was pinned down with other members of his company during an attack against strong enemy positions on 7 April 1945 in the vicinity of Untergriesheim, Germany.   Heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire made any move hazardous when he stood up, shouted to his company to follow, and ran forward in the wake of a supporting tank, firing his machine pistol.  Inspired by his example, his comrades advanced in the face of savage enemy fire.   When his weapon was struck by shrapnel and rendered useless, he climbed to the deck of a friendly tank, manned an exposed machine gun on the turret of the vehicle, and, while bullets rattled around him, fired at an enemy emplacement with such devastating accuracy that he killed or wounded at least 10 hostile soldiers and destroyed their machine gun.  Maintaining his extremely dangerous post as the tank forged ahead, he blasted three more positions, destroyed another machine gun emplacement and silenced all resistance in this area, killing at least three and wounding an undetermined number of riflemen as they fled.  His machine gun eventually jammed; so he secured a sub machine gun from the tank crew to continue his attack on foot.  When our armored forces exhausted their ammunition and the order to withdraw was given, he remained behind to help a seriously wounded comrade over several hundred yards of open terrain rocked by an intense enemy artillery and mortar barrage.  By his intrepidity and inspiring courage Private First Class Colalillo gave tremendous impetus to his company's attack, killed or wounded 25 of the enemy in bitter fighting, and assisted a wounded soldier in reaching the American lines at great risk to his own life.

From PFC Colalillo's Medal of Honor citation, awarded on January 9, 1946.

Thank you for your service and may you be at peace,
Brian

Oral history by Colalillo, himself.

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