2023 ETVMA Medal of Honor Evening

The East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association presents the 12th Annual Medal of Honor Evening, honoring World War II Medal of Honor Recipient Sergeant Raymond H. Cooley, United States Army.

The event is scheduled for Monday, May 1, 2023 at The Historic Foundry Building at 747 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville TN. The featured speaker for the evening will be historian James M. Scott, author of Black Snow, Rampage, and Target Tokyo.

About Staff Sergeant Ray Cooley

Staff Sergeant, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army.

Near Lumboy, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Date of action: February 24, 1945

He was a platoon guide in an assault on a camouflaged entrenchment defended by machine guns, rifles, and mortars. When his men were pinned down by 2 enemy machine guns, he voluntarily advanced under heavy fire to within 20 yards of one 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, one 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 machine gun 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.

Buy Tickets

Tickets for the Medal of Honor Evening are no longer available online. For more information on this event please email Joleen@etvma.org