Commander, Submarine Group Two


PCU Minnesota Extends Condolences After the Passing of Minnesota's Last WWII MoH Recipient

DULUTH, Minn. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Minnesota (SSN 783) reflected on the service and sacrifice of their namesake state's last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Jan. 6.

Michael Colalillo, a Duluth-native, died Dec. 30 at the age of 86. Colalillo was presented the Medal of Honor by then-President Harry S. Truman in April 1945 while a private first class assigned to 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment, and 100th Infantry Division.

The Minnesota Army National Guard will conduct full military honors at the funeral Jan. 7.

"We are privileged to provide honors to the family, for Mr. Colalillo's service to our country and our state," said Bastian Chris Van Hofwegen, Minnesota Military Funeral Honors coordinator. "He is an example of a true hero."

According to the citation, Colalillo received the highest medal in the U.S. military for "his intrepidity and inspiring courage Pfc. Colallilo gave tremendous impetus to his company's attack, killed or wounded 25 of the enemy in bitter fighting, and assisted a wounded soldier in reaching the American lines at great risk of his own life."

Commissioning Committee member and Minnesota Navy League President Dave Hutton, who retired from the Navy, reflected on Colalillo and other service members from the "Greatest Generation" who gave so much to the nation.

"It's important to reflect and honor this man's service to our state and country," said Hutton.

Twin Cities Navy League Vice President Brian Skon will attend the service on behalf of the 300 members of the Twin Cities Navy League council and the USS Minnesota Commissioning Committee.

A visitation service will be held at the Dougherty Funeral home in Duluth, Minn., Jan. 6 and a service is planned for Jan. 7 at 11:00 at St. James Catholic Church, also in Duluth. Members of Congress are also expected to attend.

According to the Medal of Honor Society website, to date 3,458 have received the medal, of which 85 living recipients of the Medal of Honor are alive today. There are only 14 surviving World War II recipients of the Medal of Honor.

Currently under construction, the submarine is planned to deliver to the Navy in 2013. Minnesota will be the 10th of 30 projected Virginia-class submarines.

"The crew of PCU Minnesota takes great pride in representing not only the state of Minnesota, but the men and women who have served our nation proudly and called Minnesota their home," said Cmdr. John Fancher, PCU Minnesota's commanding officer.