b. 14/05/1916 Dunlap, Tennessee. d. 12/03/1947 South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24/02/1945 Lumboy, near Luzon, Philippines.
World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. He received the award from President Harry S. Truman at the White House on August 23, 1945 for his actions as a staff sergeant with Company B, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, US Army, on February 24, 1945, near Lumboy, Luzon, Philippine Islands. He joined the US Army in September 1941 and after his recruit and combat training, he was sent to the Pacific Theater of Operations. On that day, while advancing on Japanese positions in the Philippines, he smothered an enemy grenade with his body but managed to survive the blast. He was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant and returned home. Cooley returned home to Tennessee, where he and fellow Medal of Honor recipients Charles Coolidge and Paul Huff led a 4th of July celebration in 1946. He suffered greatly from his war wounds and became addicted to both drugs and alcohol. He died in an automobile accident at the age of 30.
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 1 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, 1 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.
BURIAL LOCATION: CUMBERLAND VIEW CEMETERY, KIMBALL, TENNESSEE.
near flag pole
LOCATION OF MEDAL: TENNESSEE STATE MUSEUM, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE.