JOHN T COLL - 1LT
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- September 21, 1944
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- November 17, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
John T. Coll, Jr. was born on September 21, 1944, in New York City and lived in Buffalo, NY, and Boston, MA, before moving to Madison, NJ, in 1963. His home of record is Madison, NJ. He graduated from Boston College High School and continued his education at Boston College. Upon graduation in 1966, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant (2LT) in the US Army, after serving as a cadet major with the ROTC Cadet Brigade.
While in college, John served as secretary of the Cadet Officers Club, two years as business manager of the University Chorale and producer of the junior and senior class musical production.
John was engaged to Patricia Claffey of Connecticut. He was assigned to active duty on August 14, 1966, and later volunteered for duty in Vietnam, where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He completed the Ordnance Officers' Basic Course at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and the Army Supply Officer Course in Ft. Lee, VA.
On July 22, 1967, in Vietnam, he enjoyed a reunion with his brother, Captain Thomas J. Coll, who was serving as advisor to the Vietnamese military at Phu Loi. The brothers met in Saigon and drove together to Phu Loi for a three-day reunion before John returned to his post.
Coll's assignment in Vietnam was in the Army Ordnance Corps, serving as platoon leader for a forward support platoon with B Company, 704th Maintenance Battalion. His unit supplied equipment and ammunition to combat units in the Dak To region where bitter fighting had been raging.
On November 21, 1967, the Coll's were notified that John was killed on November 17th near Doc Phu by shrapnel fragment.
Jim Luts, a Madison resident, remembers the day the Coll's were notified by the military of John's death. "We were painting a house across the street from the Coll's on Pomeroy Road when we saw the military personnel pull up. I knew something was wrong right away."
In addition to the Purple Heart, John received the Bronze Star Medal posthumously and in special recognition, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry 1st Class with gold palm. Tom Coll, John's brother, now a Lieutenant Colonel retired, commented "Being intimately familiar with the Vietnamese Army's standards for awards, which were far more stringent than the American's, I'm sure John was cited for a genuinely heroic act."
Tom Coll, then a Captain who had returned from Vietnam on August 11, 1967, served as escort officer, accompanying his brother's body from Dover Air Force Base to Madison, NJ, on November 25, 1967.
John T. Coll was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, receiving a full military funeral as tribute to a true American soldier.
Sources: Always with us (Madison War Memorial Book Committee) and NJVVMF.
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