“I joined to fight and was put blowing a bugle. There is a right way, and Marine Corps Way, naturally it’s easy to see which way we go,” said USMC Sgt. Darrell Cole.

In his formative years, Darrell Cole was a Sunday school leader, choir boy, and vagabond. But his actions in the moments that would ultimately end his life made him an American hero and Medal of Honor recipient.


Cole’s Early Life

Darrell Cole was born on 20 July 1920 in Flat River, Missouri. According to his diary, he had “blond hair, blue eyes and was fair of complexion.” His hobbies included “photography, swimming, roller-skating, bowling, reading, and music.” He enjoyed songs of the time such as Wait for Me Mary, Moonlight Becomes You, Stardust, White Cliffs of Dover, and Intermezzo.

According to the Daily Journal Online, which did an incredible story on Cole’s life and his journal entries, on 10 May 1943, Cole began putting to paper his account of the Battle of Guadalcanal and the events leading up to it. Cole’s own words are highlighted in this excerpt from his diary:

“I am going to try and set down as many of the events that happened to me, from boot camp up to the present. Of course, hundreds of things will have to be left out due to loss of memory, and other unavoidable circumstances.

To start with, I was a foot-loose vagabond before enlisting in the Marine Corps. I have tried my hand at doing nearly every thing, and succeeded at nothing. Simply because it never held any interest enough for me to continue it. Following is the things I’ve did and tried… All interesting while it lasted.

Ran away from home at 10 years of age. Burned a barn down at three years of age, with brother Stanley. Held janitor job in the eighth grade, 14 years old. In high school was on track team (mile), vice president of Dramatics Club, Editor-in-Chief of high school annual. In senior play, in band, Boys Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Boys Quartet, Pep Squad, French Horn Trio, and was on NYA. Graduated out of 12th grade in three years, age 17.