“With it being Fourth of July weekend, we wanted to do something for our vets,” Assistant Pastor T.J. Phillips said of next Sunday’s event.
Health permitting, Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge of Signal Mountain will attend the July 6 gathering, as an honored guest.
A “Medal of Honor: Oral Histories” clip outlining his service will also be presented. The service begins at 11 a.m.
Coolidge was a technical sergeant during World War II. He was born in Signal Mountain and owns Chattanooga Printing and Engraving.
According to Coolidge’s company website, he served in the “141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Coolidge distinguished himself while leading a section of heavy machine guns supported by 1 Platoon of Company K … On 24 Oct. 1944 … Coolidge went forward with a sergeant of company to reconnoiter positions for coordinating the fires of the light and heavy machine guns. They ran into an enemy force in the woods estimated to be an infantry company … With his carbine, Coolidge wounded 2 of them.”
Coolidge assumed command of the group to overcome the enemy. In the following days more attacks followed, and Coolidge continued to lead the men. During an attack on Oct. 27 brought Coolidge “armed himself with a bazooka and advanced to within 25 yards of the tanks. His bazooka failed to function and he threw it aside. Securing all the hand grenades he could carry, he crawled forward and inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing enemy. Finally it became apparent that the enemy … would overrun the position. Coolidge… directed and conducted an orderly withdrawal, being himself the last to leave the position.”
“A Medal of Honor recipient is rare [in that] when there is one even semi-local, a lot of people know about it,” Phillips said.
He said he hopes the day will be a time for the community to come and show support for veterans.
Phillips said the service will also use veteran-themed music.
The church plans to present each veteran attending with a token of appreciation.
Senior Pastor Brent Coley had the idea for the focus, but asked Phillips to organize it.
The day has a special meaning to Phillips.
“My grandfather served in World War II. I didn’t get to know him that well, but I know of his service and sacrifice. He got wounded,” Phillips said.
Although he never served in the military, Phillips did spend time as assistant pastor for a church in Clarksville near Fort Campbell.
“They [Military veterans] understand what service is. They understand what sacrifice is,” Phillips said. “We have a generation these days that doesn’t understand the value of sacrifice. The little bit of history I had in class, we didn’t talk a whole lot about World War II.”
He said he hoped the event will help young people understand the sacrifice that these veterans made.
Phillips said the church will have other days honoring veterans in the future.