03 January 2012

RIP: Mike Colalillo

Mike Colalillo
2 Dec 1925 - 30 Dec 2011

ZUI this article from The Republic:
Mike Colalillo, the last Medal of Honor recipient in Minnesota, has died. He was 86.

Colalillo died Friday at a Duluth nursing home, the Dougherty Funeral Home confirmed Monday.

He received the nation's highest military honor for bravery in combat for killing or wounding 25 Germans and helping a seriously wounded comrade to safety during a fierce firefight near Untergriesheim, Germany, on April 7, 1945, toward the end of World War II.


In a 1949 news interview, Colalillo said: "I never wanted to kill anybody, and I never had any particular yen to be a hero. Heroes are a dime a dozen in my book."

Colalillo never called attention to his heroics, his daughter said.


Colalillo's wife, Lina, died in 2007. A daughter, Joan Colalillo, died in 2001. He is survived by [his daughter, Michelle] Schneeberger, and his son, Al Colalillo, of Hayward, Wis.

There are now 84 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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Private First Class, US Army; Company C, 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division

Born: 2 December 1925, Hibbing, Minnesota
Died: 30 December 2011, Duluth, Minnesota

Citation: He 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 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 submachinegun 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. Colallilo 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.

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