Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 21, 2011

Eight American Warriors–Part Eight

…you’ve never heard of.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole, U.S. Army (WWII)

Cole earned the badass-yet-depressing honor of surviving the battle in which he earned the Medal of Honor, but dying in a different battle before the war’s end (not unlike Marine Corps legend John Basilone). Cole’s moment of glory occurred after he parachuted into France with the 101st Airborne ahead of D-Day in 1944. Tasked with moving his battalion across a bridge to Carentan, Cole’s unit became pinned down on a narrow causeway later dubbed Purple Heart Lane. (A bit of advice: if you’re on a road named for an award given to people injured in combat, that’s generally a bad place to be.)

With his troops trapped by machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire, Cole did the only sensible thing: he ordered his troops to fix bayonets, then he personally led a successful charge of the German lines in which 130 of his 265 men suffered casualties. Oh, and by “sensible” I mean “spitting in death’s face.” Unfortunately for Cole, America, he was killed by a sniper later that year during Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands.

Bonus Badass Points: Cole shares a last name with Marine Sergeant Darrell Cole, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima posthumously and served as the namesake of the USS Cole, the destroyer that was attacked by Al-Qaeda in 2000.

–credit for series to Uproxx

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