CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A celebrated World War II hero from Chattanooga will get another honor on Friday.
U.S. Army Technical Sergeant,Charles H. Coolidge will receive this year’s national George Marshall Award.
The honor recognizes a prominent American who best celebrates the sacrifice, resilience, and service of the 16 million women and men who served in our Armed Forces during World War II.
Coolidge, a longtime resident of Signal Mountain, is the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient in Tennessee.
The ceremony will take place at the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga at 12 p.m.
Several members of Tennessee's Congressional delegation are expected attend, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Sen. Bill Hagerty, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
The award is named for Five Star U.S. Army General George Marshall, who led the American military during World War II.
Previous recipients are Hershel “Woody” Williams (2020), the only other living Medal of Honor recipient from the World War II, and Congressman Steve Scalise (2019).
Charles Coolidge was born in 1921, on Signal Mountain, graduated from Chattanooga High School and worked at his father’s printing business as a book binder before enlisting. He earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in France between October 24-27, 1944.
The official record says, “As a result of T/Sgt. Coolidge's heroic and superior leadership, the mission of this combat group was accomplished throughout 4 days of continuous fighting against numerically superior enemy troops in rain and cold and amid dense woods." Mr. Coolidge also received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star during his time in combat. At 99, he is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.
The mission of the State Funeral for World War II Veterans organization is to convince the President to designate a state funeral for the final Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.
“In total, 473 Americans were awarded our nation’s highest military honor during the Second World War. Today, only two remain,” said Chairman Lee William (Bill) McNutt. “A State Funeral would provide special recognition to all 16 million citizens who wore the uniform of our armed forces in the Second World War and give the millions of families who had relatives serve the opportunity to remember the great sacrifices made.”
“Charles Coolidge’s also received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star during his time in combat.” said Don Ballard, a Vietnam War veteran who received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1970 for heroism in the Quang Tri Province in 1968. “During that time in America’s history, it is amazing how The Greatest Generation stepped up to fight for the freedom our country represents. It is up to our generation to show gratitude to that World War II generation for the example they set for all generations to follow.”
The Volunteer State’s entire Congressional delegation in Washington D.C., led by Sen. Blackburn, sent a letter to the White House last September asking the President to designate a State Funeral for the final MOH holder from World War II.
The State Funeral for World War II Veterans says this state funeral will provide a final salute for the 16 million women and men who wore our nation’s uniform in the Second World War.
The Tennessee State Legislature also passed a resolution last July supporting a State Funeral. “Tennessee is proud of it’s leaders for working to honor the sacrifices made by The Greatest Generation,” said Charlie Sell, Tennessee State Co-Chair for the organization.
This story will be updated as we learn more.