SERGEANT DARRELL SAMUEL COLE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
Sergeant Darrell Samuel Cole (July 20, 1920 – February 19, 1945) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the United States’ highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his “conspicuous gallantry” at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Although he was originally assigned to play the bugle, Sergeant Cole repeatedly requested that his rating be changed from field musician to machine-gunner. Although rated as a bugler he fought as a machine-gunner in several major campaigns of World War II including Guadalcanal, Tinian, Saipan. On his fourth request to change his rating to machine-gunner the request was approved 4 months before he was sent into combat again on Iwo Jima. During the battle, Cole made a successful one-man attack against two gun emplacements impeding the advance of his company. Upon returning to his squad, he was killed by an enemy grenade. In 1996 the United States Navy named the USS Cole (DDG-67), a destroyer, in his honor. This destroyer was damaged in a suicide attack in Yemen but subsequently repaired and is currently in service.
Cole was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, which was presented to his widow on April 17, 1947. The citation reads as follows.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Leader of a Machine-gun Section of Company B, First Battalion, Twenty-Third Marines, Fourth 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 one squad of his section in the initial assault wave, Sergeant Cole boldly led his men up the sloping beach toward Airfield Number One despite the blanketing curtain of flying shrapnel and, personally destroying with hand grenades two hostile emplacements which menaced the progress of his unit, continued to move forward until a merciless barrage of fire emanating from three Japanese pillboxes halted the advance. Instantly placing his one remaining machine gun 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, Sergeant Cole, armed solely with a pistol and one grenade, coolly advanced alone to the hostile pillboxes. Hurling his one 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, Sergeant 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, Sergeant Cole served as an inspiration to his comrades, and his stouthearted leadership in the face of almost certain death sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.