Sergeant Darrell S. Cole, USMCR, (1920-1945)



Darrell Samuel Cole was born on 20 July 1920 in Flat River, Missouri. After graduating from high school in Esther, Missouri, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps as a forestry clerk and later was a machine operator in Detroit, Michigan. In August 1941, Cole enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and was sent to Parris Island, South Carolina for training, becoming a bugler after attending the Field Music School. He was transferred to the 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division and courageously participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign that began in August 1942, performing more like a machine gunner than a bugler. Immediately after the campaign, Cole put in for a transfer to perform the "regular duties" of a Marine Private First Class, but his request was denied "due to a shortage of field musics." He joined the 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, 4th Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in March 1943. In early February 1944, after another unsuccessful request for a occupational transfer, Cole participated in the invasion of Roi-Namur, on Kwajalein Atoll, again assuming duties as a machine gunner. His division then assigned him as a machine gun leader during the assaults on Saipan and Tinian in June and July 1944. When his squad leader was killed during a battle, Cole assumed command of the squad. For his combat performance on Saipan, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Following the Marianas Campaign, Cole again requested a rating change. This time, his bravery and fighting skills were rewarded with approval of the application and, in November 1944, by promotion to Sergeant. By the time the 4th Division took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima on 19 February 1945, he was serving as leader of a machine-gun section. In the face of tremendous small-arms, artillery and mortar fire that day, Cole led his men against Japanese defenses. After the unit's progress was halted by three enemy pillboxes, he resumed the advance, at times by himself. Armed with only a pistol and grenades, he made a series of attacks against the hostile strongpoints. His third assault destroyed the Japanese position, but Cole was killed while making his way back to his squad. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" and "stouthearted leadership in the face of almost certain death", Darrell S. Cole was awarded the Medal of Honor.

USS Cole (DDG-67), 1996-____, is named in honor of Sergeant Cole.

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Photo #: NH 103801

Sergeant Darrell S. Cole, USMCR


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 168.
Darrell S. Cole received the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" on 19 February 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command

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Medal of Honor citation of Sergeant Darrell Samuel Cole, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 168):

"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 No. 1 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 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 gaging 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 gantlet 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 stout-hearted leadership in the face of almost certain death sustained and enhanced the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."


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