Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Michael "Mike" Colalillo

  • Rank: Private First Class (Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 398th Infantry,
    100th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: April 7, 1945
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Untergriesheim, Germany

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 machine-gun 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 the deck of the friendly tank, manned an exposed machine gun 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 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 his 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 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 to his own life.

Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: December 18, 1945

    The White House, presented by Pres. Harry S. Truman

  • Born: December 1, 1925, Hibbing, St. Louis County, MN, United States
  • Died: December 30, 2011, Duluth, MN, United States
  • Buried: Forest Hill Cemetery, Duluth, MN, United States

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