Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Paul Luther Bolden

  • Rank: Staff Sergeant (Highest Rank: Master Sergeant)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company I, 120th Infantry,
    30th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: December 23, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Petit-Coo, Belgium
He voluntarily attacked a formidable enemy strongpoint in Petit-Coo, Belgium, on 23 December 1944, when his company was pinned down by extremely heavy automatic and small-arms fire coming from a house 200 yards to the front. Mortar and tank artillery shells pounded the unit, when SSgt. Bolden and a comrade, on their own initiative, moved forward in a hail of bullets to eliminate the ever-increasing fire from the German position. Crawling ahead to close with what they knew was a powerfully armed, vastly superior force, the pair reached the house and took up assault positions, SSgt. Bolden under a window, his comrade across the street where he could deliver covering fire. In rapid succession, SSgt. Bolden hurled a fragmentation grenade and a white phosphorous grenade into the building; and then, fully realizing that he faced tremendous odds, rushed to the door, threw it open, and fired into 35 SS troopers who were trying to reorganize themselves after the havoc wrought by the grenades. Twenty Germans died under fire of his submachine gun before he was struck in the shoulder, chest, and stomach by part of a burst which killed his comrade across the street. He withdrew from the house, waiting for the surviving Germans to come out and surrender. When none appeared in the doorway, he summoned his ebbing strength, overcame the extreme pain he suffered, and boldly walked back into the house, firing as he went. He had killed the remaining 15 enemy soldiers when his ammunition ran out. SSgt. Bolden's heroic advance against great odds, his fearless assault, and his magnificent display of courage in reentering the building where he had been severely wounded cleared the path for his company and insured the success of its mission.
Medal of Honor Recipient Paul L. Bolden
Medal of Honor Recipient Paul L. Bolden
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Madison, Madison County, Alabama
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: August 23, 1945
    The White House, presented by Pres. Harry S. Truman
  • Born: June 15, 1922, Hobbes Island, Madison County, AL, United States
  • Died: May 21, 1979, Owens Crossroads, AL, United States
  • Buried: Moons Cemetery (MH), Owens Crossroads, AL, United States

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