Darrell Samuel Cole was born July 20, 1920 in Park Hills, Missouri. Although he enjoyed more active hobbies such as basketball, hunting, and photography, it was his French horn playing abilities that led to his assignment as a Bugler with the 1st Marine Division in 1941. Cole, however, was unhappy with this assignment; he had joined the Marine Corps to fight, not to play music. Although he requested multiple times to be moved to Infantry, he was denied every time because of the shortage of buglers in the Corps.
Cole finally got his chance to see combat in the Pacific theater of World War II, when he filled in as a replacement machine gunner during the Battle of Guadalcanal from August 7, 1942 to February 7, 1943. He also fought with the 4th Marine Division in the Battle of Kwajalein from January 3 to February 3, 1944, helping the American forces bring the garrison of 3,500 Japanese troops down to a mere 51 survivors. Cole was designated as a machine gun section leader during the Battle of Saipan from June 15 to July 9, 1944. Although wounded in the fight, he assumed command of the entire squad when his own squad leader was killed in action. Cole received two Purple Hearts for his wounds, and a Bronze Star for his “Resolute leadership, indomitable fighting spirit, and tenacious determination in the face of terrific opposition.” Serving again during the battle of Tinian from July 24 to August 4, 1944, he further reinforced his reputation as “The Fighting Field Musician.” In November 1944, the Marine Corps officially reassigned Cole to Infantry, and promoted him to Sergeant.
On February 19, 1945, Sergeant Cole led a machine gun section ashore during the assault on Iwo Jima. Two enemy emplacements halted the section’s advance, both of which Cole then single handedly destroyed with hand grenades. His unit advanced further across the island until they were pinned down yet again, this time by three more Japanese emplacements. A machine gunner in Cole’s squad immediately opened fire on the nearest emplacement, neutralizing the threat. Unfortunately, the machine gunner’s weapon malfunctioned shortly afterwards. Armed with a single pistol and a couple hand grenades, Cole had his squad lay down suppressive fire as he charged the other two emplacements head-on. A heavy firefight ensued, during which Cole returned to his squad twice for more grenades. Despite a tremendous assailment of small-arms, mortar, and artillery fire from the enemy, Cole eventually succeeded in annihilating both emplacements. Although he was instantly killed by an enemy grenade while running back to his squad, Sergeant Cole’s selfless and courageous assault allowed his company to move forward past the emplacements and continue the essential takeover of the island. He valiantly gave his life for his country and his fellow Marines.
Sergeant Cole was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Fifty-one years later, on June 8, 1996, the United States Navy memorialized this Marine forever by naming the USS Cole (DDG-67) in his honor.
William John McClung III
William John McClung III was born March 26, 1917 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1934, he served as a trumpet player, and eventually as Drum Major, with the “Last China Band'' as part of the Fourth Marine Regiment. After participating in the Battle of Bataan from January 7 to April 9, 1942, during the Philippine Islands Campaign, McClung fought in the Battle of Corregidor from May 5 to May 6, 1942. There, he was captured by Japanese forces as a Prisoner of War (POW), marched through the streets of Manila, and incarcerated at Fort Santiago. He would remain a POW there for nearly 3 1⁄2 years. When he was finally rescued and recovered, McClung was assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, California.
MSgt McClung joined members of the 1st Marine Division on their deployment to Korea during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950. Led by General Song Shilun, the Chinese opposition of roughly 120,000 troops greatly outnumbered Major General Oliver P. Smith’s 30,000 United Nations Command troops. This forced the UN troops to withdraw from the reservoir to the port of Hungnam. The only route to the port was a single seventy-eight mile roadway. The withdrawing soldiers faced significant enemy resistance as they fought their way down, attempting to avoid being surrounded.
On December 7, 1950, MSgt McClung’s unit was attacked by an outnumbering enemy force, causing him to assume charge of a sector. He was able to organize and direct the fire of his small party, but not without constantly exposing himself to enemy fire from automatic weapons, mortar rounds, machine guns, and rocket launchers in the process. His small party consisted of clerks, cooks, drivers, and other bandsmen. Fate was not on their side that night. When two of the trucks in the column caught fire, not only did the fire heavily injure some Marines, it also gave away their position. As a result, MSgt McClung directed his men to new positions that offered better concealment. He then returned to the area of the burning trucks and began to remove the wounded Marines from the lighted area. While he was able to carry two injured Marines away to safety, he was killed in action while recovering a third Marine from the flaming vehicles.
Although his remains were never recovered, MSgt McClung was honored at Koto-ri Cemetery in Korea. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his altruistic devotion to his fellow Marines. On April 24 2010, the 1st Marine Division Band Hall was named McClung Hall and dedicated in his honor.