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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1939


(Born Tex.)

Robert George Cole

(Ap'd at Large)


(Born Mar. 19, 1915, Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.)

Military History. — Cadet U. S. M. A., July 1, 1935 to June 12, 1939, appointed

(2d Lt., Inf.)

At Ft. Lewis, Wash., 15th Inf., Sept. 16, 1939, to ––––

Vol. IX
[Supplement, Vol. IX: 1940‑1950]

Military History. — Ft Lewis Wash, 15 Inf, 16 Sep 39‑

(1 Lt AUS 9 Sep 40)

Ft Benning Ga, Mar 41‑

(Capt AUS 1 Feb 42)

(1 Lt Inf 12 Jun 42)

(Maj AUS 13 Oct 42)

(Lt Col AUS 29 May 43)

Ft Bragg NC, ETO, England, France (Normandy landing), Holland, CO Bn 502 PIR 101 Abn Div, Sep 43‑18 Sep 44.

KIA — Holland, 18 Sep 44: Aged 29.

Medal of Honor

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 Lt. Col. Cole reflect great credit upon himself and are worthy of the highest praise in the military service.​a


Portrait and obituary at West Point Association of Graduates.º

Buried, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, The Netherlands.​b

Thayer's Notes:

a The citation is from Col. Cole's page at Congressional Medal of Honor Society; further details on Col. Cole's war service are given in "101st in Operation Market-Garden: Taking the Bridge at Best" at the Warfare History Network.

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b The burial information is from the memorial article and biographical sketch at West Point Association of Graduates; the precise plot is given at American Battle Monuments Commission.

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Page updated: 13 Jun 17