Clyde Lee Choate MOH

b. 28/06/1920 West Frankfort, Illinois. d. 05/10/2001 Carbondale, Illinois.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25/10/1944 Bruyeres, France.

Clyde L Choate MOH

Choate was born in West Frankfort, Illinois, one of twelve children born to a coal miner. He joined the Army from Anna, Illinois, and by October 25, 1944 was serving as a Staff Sergeant in Company C, 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion. On that day, near Bruyères in eastern France, his tank destroyer was hit and set on fire in an attack by German forces. He ordered his crew to abandon the destroyer and reached a position of relative safety, but then returned through hostile fire to the burning vehicle to make sure no one was trapped inside. Seeing a German tank overrunning American infantry soldiers, he single-handedly attacked and destroyed the tank. In a ceremony at the White House on August 23, 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented Choate with the Medal of Honor for his actions near Bruyères. He maintained his Medal of Honor was not his alone, but belonged to the entire 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion.

At his Medal of Honor presentation ceremony, Choate shared his concerns about the coal industry in southern Illinois. In response, President Truman encouraged him to run for public office. In 1946, Choate was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives as one of three representatives from the 50th district, succeeding fellow Democrat Herbert L. Upchurch. The 50th district included Alexander, Franklin, Pulaski, Union and Williamson counties in southwestern Illinois. Shortly after his election, he married Mabel Madonna Ross of Carbondale, Illinois, on May 10, 1947. They had two daughters: Elizabeth Ellen and Madonna Kim.

After winning reelection in 1976, Choate announced his decision to step down on January 8, 1977. William L. Harris, Vice Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Elections, was appointed by local Democratic leaders to succeed him. After retiring from elective politics, Choate became director of external affairs for Southern Illinois University. He attended the May 28, 1999, unveiling of the Medal of Honor Memorial in Indianapolis, Indiana. He died at age 81 at a hospital in Carbondale, Illinois, from complications of congestive heart failure. He was buried at Anna Cemetery in Anna.



He commanded a tank destroyer near Bruyeres, France, on October 25, 1944. Our infantry occupied a position on a wooded hill when, at dusk, an enemy Mark IV tank and a company of infantry attacked, threatening to overrun the American position and capture a command post 400 yards to the rear. S/Sgt. Choate’s tank destroyer, the only weapon available to oppose the German armor, was set afire by 2 hits. Ordering his men to abandon the destroyer, S/Sgt. Choate reached comparative safety. He returned to the burning destroyer to search for comrades possibly trapped in the vehicle risking instant death in an explosion which was imminent and braving enemy fire which ripped his jacket and tore the helmet from his head. Completing the search and seeing the tank and its supporting infantry overrunning our infantry in their shallow foxholes, he secured a bazooka and ran after the tank, dodging from tree to tree and passing through the enemy’s loose skirmish line. He fired a rocket from a distance of 20 yards, immobilizing the tank but leaving it able to spray the area with cannon and machinegun fire. Running back to our infantry through vicious fire, he secured another rocket, and, advancing against a hail of machinegun and small-arms fire reached a position 10 yards from the tank. His second shot shattered the turret. With his pistol he killed 2 of the crew as they emerged from the tank; and then running to the crippled Mark IV while enemy infantry sniped at him, he dropped a grenade inside the tank and completed its destruction. With their armor gone, the enemy infantry became disorganized and was driven back. S/Sgt. Choate’s great daring in assaulting an enemy tank single-handed, his determination to follow the vehicle after it had passed his position, and his skill and crushing thoroughness in the attack prevented the enemy from capturing a battalion command post and turned a probable defeat into a tactical success.