Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas


1912 - 2008


101st Airborne Division 327th Infantry Crest


Patriot, Chapter 1919

 (ARMY, WWII, Europe) Article May 2001



Marcus was one of the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division.  He was with them when they were rushed to Bastogne to block the German offensive in the Battle of the Bulge, and he was wounded there on Christmas morning, 1944.  His real life experience closely resembles what was shown in the movie “Battle Ground”. 

Marcus Cohen was born in 1912 in Cordele, Georgia, where he grew up and finished high school as valedictorian of his graduating class. He attended Georgia Tech and after that, lived in Atlanta for 5 or 6 years.  Marcus then moved to Louisville, Kentucky and went into business. He was half-owner in “Bon Art" photo studio with the partner taking the pictures while Marcus administered the business. Upon the outbreak of WWII, both of the owners were soon drafted and they went off to war leaving the studio in the capable hands of the partner's wife.

Being age 28 put Marcus in draft category 1-H, but he was called up and entered active duty on March 17,1942. At Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, the inductees were formed into the 82nd Division and went through basic and advanced training. More men came in and the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions were organized with Marcus being in Co A, 1st Battalion, 401st Infantry (later redesignated the 327th Glider Infantry) of the 101st Airborne. They moved to Ft Bragg, North Carolina in October 1942 for unit training and did seven weeks of maneuvers in Tennessee in the summer of 1943 before moving to Camp Shanks, New York in early September. They took ship in New York harbor and arrived in England on Oct 20, 1943 on the converted troopship, JOHN ERICKSON.  They were stationed at Reding, 45 miles west of London where they trained and prepared for the invasion of Europe. 

Staff Sergeant Marcus Cohen went into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. After 35 days of combat in Normandy, the division was pulled out and returned to England for two months. They then participated in operation "Market Garden" with the division going in at Eindhoven on September 18th. On Thanksgiving Day 1944, the 101st Airborne Division was withdrawn to Marmelon, France (18 mi from Reims) to rest and refit. 

 The Battle of the Bulge began on December 16th and the 101st Airborne Division was quickly moved up to hold the strategic crossroads of Bastogne.  Marcus says, "We got off the cattle trucks on the outskirts of town on Tuesday morning, December 19th.  It was overcast and bitterly cold.  Bastogne was surrounded.  My birthday was Thursday the 21st and on Friday the 22nd the clouds broke and we got a supply drop from the C-47's. On Christmas Day, the Germans mounted a strong attack just before daylight.  I was wounded very early in the action and the bullet that passed through my shoulder hit and killed Roy Spritzer, my foxhole mate.  Bitter fighting continued throughout the day before the attack was beaten back and it was 4PM before I could be taken out with the rest of the wounded. The first-aid station was in a bombed-out church just outside town.  My arm was immobilized in a cast there. It took another two days before General Patton's troops broke through and opened up the highway." 

The war was over for Marcus. First spending time in an Evacuation Hospital, then to the American Hospital in Paris, then back to England. On March 5,1945, after exactly 18 months overseas, he departed on the Queen Mary for New York. After more hospitalization and convalescent leave Marcus was discharged in August 1945 at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, GA. He was soon back in Louisville where he and his partner took over the photo studio again. 

Marcus says, “Business was good, we opened a second studio in Cincinnati, I bought a new red studebaker in 1948, the earliest delivery I could get. Goldye and I married Sep 5, 1948 and we built a house in 1954.” Marcus became a member of Louisville Chapter 146, MOPH, he and Goldye raised a son and a daughter, and they continued to live in the same home until March 2000. At that time Marcus and Goldye moved in retirement to Austin to be near their daughter. Marcus soon transferred his membership in MOPH to Texas Capital Chapter 1919 in Austin where he serves as one of our Chapter Chaplains and enjoys his status as the eldest among our chapter's 511 members.

Marcus Cohen provided this Purple Heart story for publication in the May 2001 issue of PATRIOT BULLETIN.  Marcus passed away in October 2008.

At Camp Claiborne, LA.

Marcus Cohen is next to right

Marcus Cohen in Battey General Hospital, Rome, Georgia

The cast was not removed until May 1945



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