LTC ROBERT G. COLE
101st Airborne Division
Near Carentan, France
11 June 1944
Lt. Col. Cole was the kind of officer who led from the front. In an Airborne Unit, the Officers are the first ones out of the aircraft on a jump.
On 11 June he was leading his Battalion as they forced the Hun from the last 4 bridges on the road to Carentan when his entire Battalion was ambushed and pinned down by enemy rifle, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire.
The enemy was dug into a well-prepared and heavily fortified position and able to deliver devastating fire on the Paratroopers.
When Ltc Cole realized how bad the situation was he ordered his men to “Fix-Bayonet” and, with absolute disregard for his own safety, The officer sprang to his feet and again lead his men from the front, pistol drawn he shouted commands and charged the enemy – his men followed.
He grabbed a rifle from a fallen soldier then charged on to lead what was left of his battalion forward to destroy the enemy positions resulting in the establishment of bridgeheads across the Douve River.
On 18 September 1944 LTC Cole, commanded the 3rd Battalion of the 502d PIR in Best, Netherlands, during Operation Market Garden.
Germans were outing decoy drop markers to confuse US resupply aircraft. An air-resupply pilot requested the surrounded Paratroopers put some orange identification panels in front of his position so the drops would be accurate. Typical of Cole, he decided to help his men do it. While he was placing a panel on the ground, he was shot in the head by a German sniper and killed instantly.
For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty on 11 June 1944, in France. Lt. Col. Cole was personally leading his battalion in forcing the last 4 bridges on the road to Carentan when his entire unit was suddenly pinned to the ground by intense and withering enemy rifle, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire placed upon them from well-prepared and heavily fortified positions within 150 yards of the foremost elements. After the devastating and unceasing enemy fire had for over 1 hour prevented any move and inflicted numerous casualties, Lt. Col. Cole, observing this almost hopeless situation, courageously issued orders to assault the enemy positions with fixed bayonets. With utter disregard for his own safety and completely ignoring the enemy fire, he rose to his feet in front of his battalion and with drawn pistol shouted to his men to follow him in the assault. Catching up a fallen man’s rifle and bayonet, he charged on and led the remnants of his battalion across the bullet-swept open ground and into the enemy position. His heroic and valiant action in so inspiring his men resulted in the complete establishment of our bridgehead across the Douve River. The cool fearlessness, personal bravery, and outstanding leadership displayed by Lt. Col. Cole reflect great credit upon himself and are worthy of the highest praise in the military service.