SAN ANTONIO - A cherished medal from one of our local heroes returned home on Friday.
The Purple Heart awarded to the family of LTC. Robert G. Cole back in 1944 was welcomed home by students, staff and guests of the school that bears his name.
Cole was born at Fort Sam Houston in 1915.
He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and later led an assault to capture the town of Carentan on June 11.
“Just an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things," said Col. William LaChance.
Cole was recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, but he didn't live to receive it.
He was killed during Operation Market Garden a few weeks after D-Day.
His family accepted the Medal of Honor, along with the Purple Heart, on the parade ground at Fort Sam Houston, where he played as a child.
The Purple Heart, which has been lost for decades, was purchased by a civilian, Lisa Ludwig, at a Long Island gun show. After looking on the back of the medal, she found the name Robert G. Cole.
After a search on the internet, Ludwig realized that he was a war hero and began a search for family members. After that search turned up empty, she realized that a school had been named for him and contacted the school asking if they would like to have the Purple Heart as a donation. They of course accepted.
“So happy to see that it got home to Texas where it belongs and where it will be honored,” said Ludwig.
At the end of the ceremony, LaChance also asked for help from social media to obtain the whereabouts of Cole's Medal of Honor that is also lost and hopefully will be returned one day to the school.
“We'll continue looking if your viewers out there happen to know where Robert G. Cole's Medal of Honor is we'd like to return it home,” said LaChance. “So that this generation of students and generation upon generations can learn and live from that example."
The citation for his Medal of Honor describes his bravery against enormous odds back in World War II:
For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty on 11 June 1944, in France. Lt. Col. Cole was personally leading his battalion in forcing the last 4 bridges on the road to Carentan when his entire unit was suddenly pinned to the ground by intense and withering enemy rifle, machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire placed upon them from well-prepared and heavily fortified positions within 150 yards of the foremost elements. After the devastating and unceasing enemy fire had for over 1 hour prevented any move and inflicted numerous casualties, Lt. Col. Cole, observing this almost hopeless situation, courageously issued orders to assault the enemy positions with fixed bayonets. With utter disregard for his own safety and completely ignoring the enemy fire, he rose to his feet in front of his battalion and with drawn pistol shouted to his men to follow him in the assault. Catching up a fallen man's rifle and bayonet, he charged on and led the remnants of his battalion across the bullet-swept open ground and into the enemy position. His heroic and valiant action in so inspiring his men resulted in the complete establishment of our bridgehead across the Douve River. The cool fearlessness, personal bravery, and outstanding leadership displayed by Lieutenant Colonel Cole reflect great credit upon himself and are worthy of the highest praise in the military service.