Obit of the Day: Minnesota’s Last Medal of Honor Winner
When President Harry S Truman hung the Medal of Honor around the neck of Sergeant Mike Colalillo he told the 20-year-old: “I’m proud of you. I [would] rather have this than be president.” In April 1945, then-Private 1st Class Colalillo earned the nation’s highest military decoration when he led a group of fellow soldiers directly into enemy fire. After losing his weapon, he climbed to the top of a tank and manned the turret gun emptying out an enemy machine gun nest and killing or wounding 25 Germans on his own. And he brought a wounded soldier back to safety. (The full citation can be found here.) When told of the award, Colalillo had to ask what the Medal of Honor was.
With the death of Sergeant Colalillo at the age of 86 there are no living Medal of Honor winners in Minnesota. A list of the 46 Minnesotans who have earned the award can be found here.
(Image courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune Attic)