|President Harry S. Truman and PFC Mike Colalillo|
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announces that Mike Colalillo, Medal of Honor recipient, passed away Friday, December 30, 2011, in Duluth, Minnesota at age 86.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman at a ceremony at the White House on December 18, 1945. His heroic action occurred near Untergriesheim, Germany on April 7, 1945. Private First Class Colalillo served as a rifleman in the Second Squad, Second Platoon, Company C, First Battalion, 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division.
He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action. While he and his company were pinned down under heavy enemy fire, he stood up, shouted to the company to follow, and ran forward in the wake of a supporting tank, firing his machine pistol. Inspired by his example, his comrades advanced in the face of savage enemy fire. He continued to fight and advance against the enemy, using all means of force at his disposal. He then remained behind to help a seriously wounded comrade.
Funeral services are pending. There are 84 recipients alive today.
SOURCE Congressional Medal of Honor Society
Private Colalillo’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
Private First Class Mike Colalillo, 2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Co. C, 1st Battalion, 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division was pinned down with other members of his company during an attack against strong enemy positions on 7 April 1945 in the vicinity of Untergriesheim, Germany. Heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire made any move hazardous when he stood up, shouted to his company to follow, and ran forward in the wake of a supporting tank, firing his machine pistol. Inspired by his example, his comrades advanced in the face of savage enemy fire. When his weapon was struck by shrapnel and rendered useless, he climbed to the deck of a friendly tank, manned an exposed machine gun on the turret of the vehicle, and, while bullets rattled around him, fired at an enemy emplacement with such devastating accuracy that he killed or wounded at least 10 hostile soldiers and destroyed their machine gun. Maintaining his extremely dangerous post as the tank forged ahead, he blasted three more positions, destroyed another machine gun emplacement and silenced all resistance in this area, killing at least three and wounding an undetermined number of riflemen as they fled. His machine gun eventually jammed; so he secured a submachine gun from the tank crew to continue his attack on foot. When our armored forces exhausted their ammunition and the order to withdraw was given, he remained behind to help a seriously wounded comrade over several hundred yards of open terrain rocked by an intense enemy artillery and mortar barrage. By his intrepidity and inspiring courage Private First Class Colalillo gave tremendous impetus to his company’s attack, killed or wounded 25 of the enemy in bitter fighting, and assisted a wounded soldier in reaching the American lines at great risk to his own life.
|PFC Mike Colalillo|
Mike Colalillo, one of nine children, was born shortly after his parents emigrated from Italy. He grew up in a tough neighborhood in Duluth, Minnesota, and left high school without graduating. Drafted in 1944, he was an eighteen-year-old private when he landed with the 100th Army Infantry Division at Marseille that October. His unit was engaged in constant combat over the next few months as it pushed up through central France and into Germany. Through the heartbreak of losing his comrades killed in the fighting, Colalillo hung on to memories of the rare funny moments as well: stealing chickens from a rundown farm, smoking cigars from a captured cigar factory.
After performing his heroic action near Untergriesheim, Germany on April 7, 1945, Colalillo was fighting on the line a few weeks later when a pair of MPs appeared and told him that his commanding officer wanted to see him. Naturally, Colalillo wondered what he had done to get arrested, but when he arrived at company headquarters, his captain told him that he’d been recommended for the Medal of Honor. He was ordered to stay around division headquarters for the next few months so that nothing would happen to him before the presentation. He was sent home after the bombing of Hiroshima and honored by President Harry Truman at the White House on December 18, 1945. NBC: The Daily Nightly