Choate, Clyde L. (601st) MOH

Clyde-L.-ChoateClyde L. Choate

Biography: Clyde Lee Choate was born on June 28, 1920, in West Frankfort, Illinois, and was one of 12 children born to James Isaac Choate and Grace Ellen Brown.

Service Time:  Clyde entered the service at Anna, IL and became a Staff Sergeant with Company C of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion. He received the Medal of Honor for actions near Bruyeres, France, on October 25, 1944.

The following article by Richard Goldsten appeared in the NY Times:

Clyde L. Choate, who received the Medal of Honor in World War II while an Army sergeant for single-handedly turning back an attack by a German tank and who later became a prominent member of the Illinois Legislature, died on Oct. 5 at a hospital in Carbondale, Ill. Mr. Choate, who lived in Anna, Ill., was 81. The cause was complications of congestive heart failure, his family said.

At dusk on Oct. 25, 1944, Mr. Choate, a staff sergeant with the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, was in combat near Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France. A German Mark IV tank and a company of infantry were threatening to overrun his battalion’s position on a wooded hill and capture its command post 400 yards to the rear.

When a tank destroyer commanded by Sergeant Choate was set on fire by enemy shelling, he ordered his men to abandon it, and they reached comparative safety. He then returned to his burning armored vehicle to search for crewmen who might have been trapped, risking death from an explosion that was imminent and braving German fire that ripped his jacket and knocked the helmet from his head.

After completing his search and seeing the American infantrymen accompanying his tank destroyer being overrun in their shallow foxholes, Sergeant Choate grabbed a bazooka and ran after the German tank. Dodging fire by moving from tree to tree, he fired a rocket from a distance of 20 yards and immobilized the tank, but it was still able to level cannon and machine-gun fire at the Americans.

Running back to his lines through heavy enemy fire, Sergeant Choate picked up another bazooka and, advancing against a hail of machine-gun and small-arms fire, came within 10 yards of the tank and shattered its turret with another rocket blast. When two German tank crewmen emerged, he killed them with pistol fire. Then, while enemy infantrymen sniped at him, he dropped a grenade in the crippled tank, destroying it. With their armor gone, the German infantrymen became disorganized and were driven back.

Medal of Honor Citation

Clyde L Choate 3For preventing the capture of his outpost, Sergeant Choate received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman at the White House on Aug. 23, 1945. Clyde Lee Choate, a native of West Frankfort, Ill., and one of 12 children of a coal miner, was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1946. He served in the Legislature for 30 years, including stints as majority leader and minority leader in the House. After retiring from elective politics, he became director of external affairs for Southern Illinois University.


Mr. Choate is survived by his wife, Madonna; two daughters, Kim Hughey of Anna, and Elizabeth Wood of Carbondale; a brother, Thomas Adams of Anna; three sisters, Dortha Ballance of Anna; Creta Yates of Jonesboro, Ill.; and Ethel Marie Marlow of Bradenton, Fla.; and two grandchildren.On Memorial Day weekend in 1999, Mr. Choate and more than 90 other recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor attended the unveiling of a memorial in Indianapolis honoring all Medal of Honor winners.”There’s probably hundreds of thousands of members of the armed forces that did equally as much as we few have done, but they were never recognized for it,” Mr. Choate said.”This isn’t my medal,” he added. ”It’s the 601st Tank Destroyer Medal of Honor.”

Clyde passed away on October 5, 2001 and is buried at the Anna Cementery in Union County, Illinois.