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Bolton’s bravery earned Congressional Medal of Honor

MADISON – Colonel Cecil Hamilton Bolton is one of the veterans memorialized at the Captain Jesse Ollie Wikle Jr. Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Madison.

Bolton earned the Congressional Medal of Honor.

He was born on Oct. 7, 1908 in Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Fla. After working as a hotel/restaurant manager, Bolton joined the U.S. Army after being drafted from Huntsville in July 1942.

Bolton received an officer’s commission and was weapons platoon leader of Company E, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division known as “The Timberwolves.”

By 1944, he was assigned as 1st Lieutenant in Company E, placed under the command of the First Canadian Army in the Netherlands to assist with clearing the Scheldt Estuary.

Bolton’s official Medal of Honor citation states that he was leader of the weapons platoon of Company E, 413th Infantry, on Nov. 2, 1944. “He fought gallantly in a pitched battle, which followed the crossing of the Mark River in the Netherlands. When two machineguns pinned down his company, he tried to eliminate, with mortar fire, their grazing fire …”

He continued to direct fire until wounded severely in his legs and rendered unconscious by a German shell. When Bolton recovered consciousness, he instructed his unit and crawled to forward rifle platoon positions.

“Taking a two-man bazooka team, Bolton advanced in chest-deep, cold water along a canal toward one enemy machinegun. He approached alone to the hostile emplacement and killed two gunners with hand grenades. He then led his men through intense fire over open ground to assault the second German machinegun.”

Bolton was wounded again but refused aid and ordered his men back to safety. “1st Lt. Bolton’s heroic assaults in the face of vicious fire, his inspiring leadership and continued aggressiveness even through suffering from serious wounds, contributed in large measure to overcoming strong enemy resistance and made it possible for his battalion to reach its objective.”

Bolton continued service in Korea, reaching the rank of Colonel. He also earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, ARCOM and Purple Heart.

He was married twice, first to Babette De Fronch in 1934 in Madison and, following Babette’s death, to Bessie Mabel McNabb in 1939 in Shelby County. 

Bolton died in 1965 at Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas at 56 years old. He and wife Bessie, who died in 1978, are interred in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. 

He was a member of Congressional Medal of Honor Society; Retired Officers Association; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Masonic Lodge; American Legion, Early Bird Post No. 37, Huntsville; B.P.O.E., Huntsville; and Scottish Rite Bodies of San Antonio.

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