Paul Luther Bolden MOH

b. 15/06/1922 Hobbs Island, Alabama. d. 21/05/1979 Alabama.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 23/12/1944 Petit-Coo, Belgium.

Paul L Bolden MOH

Paul Luther Bolden was born June 15, 1922 in Hobbs Island, Madison County, Alabama. His parents were Samuel M. Bolden and Rachel Jean Winkles Bolden. Paul joined the Army in October 1942. After completing basic training, he was assigned to India [I] Company, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division and sent to the battlefront in Europe.

The 30th Infantry Division was called the “Old Hickory” Division in honor of President Andrew Jackson. Many historians consider the 30th the number one infantry division in the European Theater of Operations. They were engaged in intense combat from June 1944 through April 1945. So tough were the men of the 30th that the Germans called them, “Roosevelt’s SS.”

On December 23rd , Paul Bolden’s Company was advancing against the Germans near the town of Petit-Coo, Belgium. They soon found themselves pinned down by an overwhelming barrage of machine-gun and small arms fire coming from a house 200 yards in front of their position. Their situation deteriorated further when German mortar and artillery fire began to rain down on them. Two men, Sgt. Paul Bolden and his friend, Sgt. Russel Snoad, decided that they would go on the offense against the German defenders. Their plan was to get close to the house, utilizing the covering fire from their Company, and throw grenades into it. Snoad took up a position across the street to provide covering fire for Bolden, who would rush the house. Putting their plan into action, Bolden sprinted through the hail of gunfire and took cover beneath a window of the house. He then threw a fragmentation grenade and a white phosphorous grenade through the window. While the Germans were trying to regroup from all the smoke and confusion, Bolden ran to the front of the house, kicked in the door and sprayed the inside with submachinegun fire. There were 35 SS troops in the house and 20 of them were killed by Bolden before he was wounded in the chest, shoulder and stomach and forced to retreat outside. The burst of gunfire from the Germans killed Sgt. Snoad across the street. Even though he was severely wounded, Bolden waited for the remaining Germans to surrender. When it was apparent that they were not giving up, he again charged through the door, firing his submachinegun. He fired until he ran out of ammunition, and killed the remaining 15 Germans. Against incredible odds, Bolden had killed 35 German SS troops and cleared the path for his company to advance.

For his gallant and courageous actions, with total disregard for his own life, Sgt. Paul L. Bolden was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. President Harry S. Truman presented the award on August 23, 1945 at the White House. Bolden said he would always remember the sacrifice of his friend, Russell Snoad and would wear the medal for all those who never made it out of the Bulge. Sgt. Russell N. Snoad was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously for his part in the actions of December 23rd.

Paul Bolden married Violet Lorene Alexander in May 1945 in New Hope, Alabama. They would have four children. Bolden retired from the Army with the rank of Master Sergeant. Besides the Medal of Honor, he was awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters and various other medals and campaign ribbons from the war.

After the war, the Boldens lived on a farm near Ardmore, Alabama, about 18 miles north of Huntsville on Alabama Highway 53. Paul worked in procurement packaging at Redstone Arsenal. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy invited him back to the White House for a ceremony honoring all living Medal of Honor winners. Local Huntsville businessmen paid the travel expenses for the Boldens.

Paul L. Bolden died in a Huntsville, Alabama hospital on May 21, 1979 from complications resulting from surgery for a brain tumor. He was only 57 years old. He was buried at Moon Cemetery at Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. Bolden is honored at the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Madison and in the Madison County Courthouse Hall of Heroes. The military building at Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville bears his name also. On May 18, 2013,the part of Alabama Highway 53 that runs from Research Park Boulevard  in Huntsville, some 18 miles north to just south of Ardmore, Alabama, was designated the Paul Luther Bolden Memorial Highway.



He voluntarily attacked a formidable enemy strong point 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 S/Sgt. Bolden and a comrade, on their own initiative, moved forward into 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, S/Sgt. Bolden under a window, his comrade across the street where he could deliver covering fire. In rapid succession, S/Sgt. Bolden hurled a fragmentation grenade and a white phosphorus 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 submachinegun 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. S/Sgt. 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.



On the right as you enter cemetery