"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
- John 15:13
1st Sergeant Henry S. Golas was born in Massachusetts in 1918. He was the son of mill workers Mary and Albert F. Golas residing in Central Falls, Rhode Island. A restless soul, he dropped out of high school and joined the Navy where he was the Pacific Fleet middleweight boxing champion. A force to be reckoned with, Henry later served in the Army. As a member of the 5th Infantry Regiment he was the Canal Zone heavyweight boxing champion.
Upon his return to Rhode Island he married Genevieve and moved to Pawtucket where he worked as a night watchman. When the United States joined the war, he was drafted in 1942 and entered the Army. A man of great strength and character, Sergeant Golas was willing to stand up to any fight. The 2nd Ranger Battalion was created a year after Golas enlisted, April 1, 1943. This was a special volunteer battalion, which was assigned one of the most dangerous, and important missions of D-Day. The Rangers’ mission was to clear the enemy from the top of Ponte et Raz de la Percee to prevent enfilading fire from being placed on Omaha Beach where the 116th Infantry was to also land.
Sergeant Golas was a great leader, therefore making him the First Sergeant in Charlie Company. As First Sergeant, Henry was the disciplinarian of the company and also had an important leadership role to play in combat. He was fourth-in-command of the company and would have been the captain's right-hand-man, an important job. Golas was a father figure to the men in the company. Henry spent over a year with the men of Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion getting them ready to face their greatest challenge.
At 6:45 AM on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, Company C landed on Charlie sector of Omaha beach. Golas was the first to notice that the LCA taking them ashore was being fired upon. Men began getting hit as soon as the ramps to the landing craft dropped. The 116th Infantry's 1st Battalion landed shortly before the Rangers. They were in chaos. Men were pinned down behind obstacles on the beach, bodies were everywhere, and the surf was already turning red from blood. Golas knew he would not survive if he did not make it to the safety of the base of the cliff. Instead of moving up the beach to the cliff to get to safety, he was standing at the water's edge and pulling the wounded men to their feet. Despite his efforts Golas was one of many that succumbed to enemy fire. In the true spirit of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, Golas was “leading the way”, urging the men to get off the beach, crawling to a safer location when he was killed.
A man of great character, Sergeant Henry S. Golas was awarded the Purple Heart. We thank him for his incredible sacrifice and for teaching us about strength and courage. Sergeant Golas knew that his mission was to be one of the most dangerous on D-Day, yet he still volunteered. He knew that behind his fears he had to be a leader. Sergeant Golas knew that his life was at high risk; that he was to scale the cliffs while Germans were shooting at him, yet he accepted his mission. Golas taught us how to be leaders and what it truly is to make a sacrifice.
Sergeant Henry S. Golas, Rest in Peace.
1st Sgt Henry S. Golas Grave Marker Plot J Row 6 Grave 4
A perfect row
Mike Kern honoring Sgt. Golas
Mr. Hooker presents flags by the grave of Sgt. Golas
Retiring the flags