Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Cole, Darrell S.

Cole, Darrell S.

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Sergeant, 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.