World War II veteran Bolden earned Medal of Honor
MADISON – Master Sergeant Paul Luther Bolden, a recipient of the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, is memorialized at Captain Jesse Ollie Wikle Jr. Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Madison.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is America’s most prestigious personal military decoration. U.S. military service members who distinguish themselves by acts of valor may receive the award. The U.S. President normally awards the medal in the name of the U.S. Congress.
Paul Luther Bolden was born on June 15, 1922 in his parents’ home in Hobbes Island. In 1942, Bolden joined the U.S. Army in Madison as an infantryman. He soon was aboard a boat sailing to Europe.
By December 1944, Bolden was a Staff Sergeant with 30th Infantry Division as they surged through Europe to Germany homeland. Unfortunately, for all Allied troops, the Germans had another massive assault planned.
The Battle of the Bulge started, and the Germans pushed into Allied lines. The Allies regained their footing, repelled the German advance and resumed their trek to Germany.
For Bolden, Belgium was the scene of his extraordinary gallantry as he forced 35 German SS troops to make their final stand. His Medal of Honor citation includes this passage:
“He voluntarily attacked a formidable enemy strongpoint in Petit-Coo, Belgium … when his company was pinned down by extremely heavy automatic and small-arms fire … Mortar and tank artillery shells pounded the unit, when SSgt. Bolden and a comrade, on their own initiative, moved forward in a hail of bullets to eliminate the ever-increasing fire from the German position.”
“Twenty Germans died under fire of (Bolden’s) submachine gun before he was struck in the shoulder, chest and stomach … SSgt. Bolden’s heroic advance against great odds, his fearless assault and his magnificent display of courage where he had been severely wounded cleared the path for his company and insured the success of its mission.”
President Harry Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Bolden on Aug. 30, 1945.
In other honors, Bolden received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Belgium Croix De Guerre.
He married Violet Lorene Alexander; they had five children. Paul worked on Redstone Arsenal. He passed away on June 15, 1979 after surgery for a brain tumor.
In May 2013, an 18-mile stretch of Alabama Hwy. 53, which stretches from Research Park Boulevard in Huntsville to south of Ardmore, was named “Paul Luther Bolden Memorial Highway” in his honor. Bolden frequently traveled this road from his farm at Ardmore.