Medal of Honor Citation:
“Staff Sergeant, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army. Near Lumboy, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Date of action: February 24, 1945
He was a platoon guide in an assault on a camouflaged entrenchment defended by machineguns, rifles, and mortars. When his men were pinned down by 2 enemy machineguns, he voluntarily advanced under heavy fire to within 20 yards of one of the guns and attacked it with a hand grenade.
The enemy, however, threw the grenade back at him before it could explode. Arming a second grenade, he held it for several seconds of the safe period and then hurled it into the enemy position, where it exploded instantaneously, destroying the gun and crew. He then moved toward the remaining gun, throwing grenades into enemy foxholes as he advanced.
Inspired by his actions, one squad of his platoon joined him. After he had armed another grenade and was preparing to throw it into the second machinegun position, 6 enemy soldiers rushed at him. Knowing he could not dispose of the armed grenade without injuring his comrades, because of the intermingling in close combat of the men of his platoon and the enemy in the melee which ensued, he deliberately covered the grenade with his body and was severely wounded as it exploded.
By his heroic actions, S/Sgt. Cooley not only silenced a machinegun and so inspired his fellow soldiers that they pressed the attack and destroyed the remaining enemy emplacements, but also, in complete disregard of his own safety, accepted certain injury and possible loss of life to avoid wounding his comrades.”
SOUTH PITTSBURG HUSTLER
South Pittsburg, Tennessee
Thursday, March 13, 1947
COOLEY, WINNER OF CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR, DIES IN AUTO CRASH
SSgt. Raymond H. Cooley, one of twenty eight heroes of World War II to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, went to his death Wednesday morning between the hours of 1 and 2 when his convertible coupe in which he was returning from the state line to his home left the highway.
The accident that cost the 31-year-old hero his life happened where the Bostick Spring branch is over passed by Lee Highway some few steps south of Ninth Street. He was returning from the state line and was evidently driving at a terrific speed when rounding the double curve just before that point. The machine swerved left and landed in the ditch.
Marks on the side of the road indicated Cooley applied the brakes to the extent that the wheels skidded and the car leaped directly into a tree which was uprooted by the impact. When discovered by Harry Simmons who lives nearby and who heard the crash, Cooley was in a dying condition as he lay against the right door of the car. Unable to extricate the body which showed signs of life, Simmons rushed back to his home and called the ambulance. Arriving at the scene the driver of the ambulance together with Dr. James B. Havron who made an examination found the driver of the ill fated car to be dead.
Surviving is his wife who was formerly Miss Agnes Geisler of Reisel, Texas father, J.H. Cooley, and brother W.O. Cooley, one sister, Mrs Willis Walker all of Richard City, Eugene Cooley of Whitwell and Mrs. Scott Layne of Kalamazoo Mich.
Sgt. Cooley and his wife had just returned from a trip to the latter’s people in Texas where they had been for some time.
NATIONAL NOTABLES PAY TRIBUTE TO MARION WAR HERO HERE ON SEPT. 14.
Long will live Friday, September 14, 1945, when national notables gathered in South Pittsburg to honor and to pay tribute to the man who sacrificed his right arm on Luzon February 24, 1945. Cooley was the leader of one of two platoons of about 60 men detailed to wipe out a Jap observation post that was menacing American positions. The platoon traveled an entire day before it was located. Within 300 yards of the fortified position the Yanks spent the night.
At dawn the following day February 24 they attacked. Their advance up the hill was halted, however, by withering Jap machinegun fire coming from two nests. The positions were protected by numerous Jap rifleman shooting from the slit trenches pocking the hillside.
All American survivors took to cover with the exception of Cooley who continued on as machinegun and rifle bullets whined around him.
“I borrowed all the grenades I could carry and began throwing them,” Sgt Cooley related, adding, “but those Japs threw them back at me.”
Cooley’s advance was imperiled by rethrown grenades, which he had intended for the Japs, blasted in the air a few yards from him.
He didn’t like the idea of playing catch with the Japs, so he pulled a change of pace on the enemy. From then on he would pull the safety pin and allow three seconds to lapse before throwing the egg. There was no time for the yellow men to return it.
It was one of these delayed action tosses that wiped out the first nest. He continued on the second, crawling on his stomach and dodging fire. He pulled a pin, threw, waited. There was an explosion, but it was just a few yards from him. The Japs had tossed it back.
He pulled the pin, released the safety. One-Two-Three! He started to throw but as he did he saw his men come up behind and had closed in on the Japs, six of whom were running toward him shrieking like savages.
The two awful seconds before the explosion of the grenade seemed much longer to him. Cooley looked for a place to toss the grenade, but his men were everywhere. He couldn’t get rid of it without endangering the lives of some of his buddies–so he held it. Gripping right hand over the grenade, clenching his teeth, Cooley shoved the missle beneath the stock of his rifle. There was an explosion.
When the smoke had cleared away corpsmen found Cooley lying on the ground. The explosion had torn off his right hand and had wounded him in the forehead, right eye, nose, both shoulders, right thigh and in his abdomen. he was still conscious.
From the battlefield, then in the hands of the Americans, Cooley was carried on a stretcher to a field hospitial. He was sent to a base hospital on the Admiralties and then to the McCloskey General Hospitial, Temple, Texas.
Cooley wore the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Infantryman’s badge, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon with three major battle participation stars, the pre-Pearl Harbor Ribbon, Good Conduct Ribbon, and the Philippines Liberation Ribbon.
Before the Philippines battles, Cooley participated in the battles of Guadalcanal and the New Guinea invasion. Sgt Cooley served with 25th Division, 27th Infantry, Co. B.
PRESIDENT TRUMAN PUTS NATION’S SUPREME AWARD ON COOLEY THURS. AUG. 23.
SSgt Cooley was one of the nation’s 28 American fighters personally welcomed by President Harry S. Truman in the crowded East Room of the White House in Washington D.C. on Thursday, August 23, 1945. The Chief Executive solemnly fastened on the South Pittsburg-Richard City hero the Medal of Honor, the nation’s supreme award for valor.
WAR DEPARTMENT HEAD IS AMONG NOTABLES FOR COOLEY DAY IN SOUTH PITTSBURG
Aside from Sgt Paul Huff of Cleveland, Sgt Charles Coolidge of Chattanooga and Maj. Howard Shofner, of Nashville, here on Cooley Day, there were many notable national characters. Among them the Hon. Estes Kefauver, congressman from this district, Secretary of War Robert Patterson, Gen. Jacob Devers, Senator A. Tom Stewart of Tennessee and Senator Chan Gurney of South Dakota, and Gov. Jim McCord. All of these gentlemen delivered speeches to a magnitude of people gathered for the great occasion.
Cooley was presented with four $1,000 bonds from the citizens of South Pittsburg, Richard City and other parts of the county.
COOLEY FUNERAL FRIDAY AT CP CHURCH TIME 1 P.M.
Cooley’s body is at the home of his brother W.O. Cooley of near Midway where it will remain until 100 o’clock tommorow, Friday afternoon, when the funeral service will be held at the Cumberland Presberterian Church. The Revs. Cortley Burroughs and R.C. Jahn will be in charge. Interment will follow in the National Cemetery, Chattanooga, with full military honors.
Pallbearers, Lawrence Roberts, Ed Neal, Bill Alton, Donald Morgan, James Brannon, Mack Metcalf honorary, other wearers of Congressional Medal of Honor and other veterans. J.B. Rogers & Co., in charge.
Some photographs below were provided by WBIR in Knoxville, TN. Medal of Honor Recipients Paul Huff and Charles Coolidge are folding the flag that was on the casket.