Medal of Honor: COLALILLO, MIKE
Our WWII veterans each have an incredible story to tell. But PFC Mike Colalillo has a story that needs to be told. Nazi Germany, April 1945: Pfc. Colalillo had his weapon destroyed and the enemy bearing down upon his company. Colalillo mans the exposed turret gun of a tank and opened fire on enemy machine gun nests decimating one after another. Mr. Colalillo turned 85 in December 2009. Please take a moment to read the citation of a hero.
Rank: Private First Class
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Company C
Division: 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division
Born: Hibbing, Minn.
Entered Service At: Duluth, Minn.
G.O. Number: 4
Date of Issue: 01/09/1946
Place / Date: Near Untergriesheim, Germany, 7 April 1945
He was pinned down with other members of his company during an attack against strong enemy positions in the vicinity of Untergriesheim, Germany. Heavy artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire made any move hazardous when 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. When his weapon was struck by shrapnel and rendered useless, he climbed to the deck of a friendly tank, manned an exposed machinegun on the turret of the vehicle, and, while bullets rattled about him, fired at an enemy emplacement with such devastating accuracy that he killed or wounded at least 10 hostile soldiers and destroyed their machinegun. Maintaining his extremely dangerous post as the tank forged ahead, he blasted 3 more positions, destroyed another machinegun emplacement and silenced all resistance in his area, killing at least 3 and wounding an undetermined number of riflemen as they fled. His machinegun 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 Pfc. 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 of his own life.
Thanks to our friends at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for this citation. Visit their website at www.cmohs.org.