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Major Louis Cukela

Submitted by: Paul Burgholzer

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Major Louis Cukela served in World War 1 with the United States Marine Corps . The dates of service are: Known 1917-1946.

 

Major Louis Cukela was born in the Croatian city of Split, which at the time existed under the domain of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. He immigrated from the Balkans to the United States in 1913. He served in the US Army from 1914-1916 and then joined the US Marines and served with them during the First World War.

He was famous for speaking in broken English. Once he was reprimanding a negligent subordinate and famously said “Next time I send damn fool, I go myself." This phrase was jokingly spread among the ranks of front-line soldiers. It is rumored that even General Pershing used the phrase once.

As a Sergeant during the Battle of Soissons Cukela ignored warnings from his fellow soldiers and crawled around the flank of a German stronghold. He charged the stronghold with his bayonet where he attacked and drove away German troops. He then picked up German grenades and tossed them at the other enemy positions in the stronghold. He captured four men, damaged two machine guns, and captured a German stronghold single handedly.

He was decorated for this heroic feat and received two Medals of Honor one from the Navy and one from the Army.