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Charles Henry Coolidge Sr., the country’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient and beloved Chattanoogan, died on Tuesday at CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga. He was 99.
Coolidge received the nation’s highest military honor for valor for his actions in the wooded mountains of France in October 1944, when he assumed command of an isolated group of 28 men, then defied the German army and two tanks for four days of continuous fighting. Coolidge was presented the Medal of Honor by Lt. Gen. Wade H. Haislip in a rare battlefield ceremony June 18, 1945, at a bombed-out airfield near Dornstadt, Germany.
The legacy of the quiet and unassuming Coolidge will reside going forward at the city’s largest public space – Coolidge Park – and the new Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, which is dedicated to educating the next generation about the six character traits that embody the heroic recipients of the nation’s highest medal.
In addition to the park and the heritage center, Chattanooga and the nation have honored the war hero in many other ways. Part of U.S. Highway 27 was named for Coolidge, and a permanent roadside marker on Signal Mountain was erected to recognize his heroic actions in World War II. He was also honored in 2013, being the first of only 12 Medal of Honor recipients to be featured on the cover of the Medal of Honor forever stamp sheet issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
Coolidge will be buried April 16 at the Chattanooga National Military Cemetery with full military honors reserved specifically for Medal of Honor recipients. His funeral service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, where Coolidge and his family have been members.
Coolidge will be placed alongside his wife, Frances, who died in 2009 at 86. The graveside service at the National Cemetery will be closed to the public. A significant number of the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients are expected to attend.
A vehicle reported stolen from Erlanger Hospital’s valet has been located and a suspect has been identified, the Chattanooga Police Department said.
The vehicle was found abandoned and recovered by the Red Bank Police Department. The vehicle has been returned to the owner.
CPD identified the suspect as Van Williams Atkins, 27, who is described as being 6 feet tall and weighing approximately 195 pounds. Atkins has brown eyes, black hair, and tattoos all over.
CPD said Atkins has warrants on file for theft over $10,000.
Tennessee Republicans are backing legislation that would require medical providers to cremate or bury fetal remains from surgical abortions over objections that doing so could stigmatize a legally available procedure.
The proposal is gaining traction inside the GOP-controlled General Assembly, where legislative panels in both the House and Senate advanced the measure on Wednesday. While Gov. Bill Lee hasn’t publicly weighed in on the bill, the Republican has repeatedly stressed his opposition to abortion. Lee signed off on one of the strictest abortion bans in the country last year. The law is currently blocked as it makes its way through court.
Supporters of the fetal-remains bill argue that it will protect human dignity. Opponents counter that it is another attempt to obstruct and spark shame over abortion.
According to the bill, medical providers must dispose of fetal remains from surgical abortions by cremation or burial and cover the costs of the disposal. The measure states that the pregnant woman “has a right to determine” the method and location for the final disposal of the fetal remains, but could choose not to exercise that right. Hospitals would be excluded under the proposed bill.
Abortion-rights advocates argue that health centers already treat fetal tissue with respect, and they say the bill is unnecessary.