Jerry Coleman

The Jerry Coleman Award

Jerry Coleman Award honors a Marine Noncommissioned Officer who possesses outstanding leadership and unyielding support for the United States Marine Corps and the United States of America.

  •    Once Coleman turned 18, he postponed his baseball career and joined the Marine Corps as a Naval Aviation Cadet in the V-5 program in San Francisco, CA. (We assume he achieved the rank of officer by virtue of serving as an aviator, and had he not served in that capacity, would have not achieved the same rank.)
  • World War II Service – Coleman flew 57 combat missions in the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber throughout campaigns involving Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. During this time, Coleman would earn two Distinguished Flying Crosses and seven Air Medals.
  • Korea Service – Coleman flew 63 close air support and interdiction strike missions earning six more Air Medals (13 Total), the Korean Service Medal with two stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.
  • Coleman is a member of the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2005.
  • Selected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient as an announcer in 2005.
  • The Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Field House was renamed the Jerry Coleman Center in honor of his military service and contributions to the San Diego community as a San Diego Padres manager and long-time lead announcer during a dedication ceremony on April 3, 2015.
  • Concerning the above mentioned dedication – “Jerry would have loved today for one major reason. Despite all the success he had in his professional roles that he led in his life, he was the proudest of being a Marine.”
  • From Coleman himself – “To me the height of my life, the best thing I ever knew, wasn’t the Yankees, wasn’t baseball or broadcasting. It was the Marine Corps.”
  • He is the only major league player to see combat in two wars.

The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation is honored to recognize a United States Marine Corps NCO who emulates the core values of a Marine, the love of country as Bob Feller and the Courage of Jerry Coleman.

Gerald F “Jerry” Coleman was born in San Jose, California on September 14, 1924.

He entered military service in 1942 and earned his pilot’s wings with the Navy before transferring to the Marines. As a dive bomber pilot flying the Douglas SBD Dauntless, Coleman flew 57 missions against the Japanese with VMSB-341. He said of the Dauntless, it was “a magnificent dive bomber, with great control and resulting accuracy.” 

First Lieutenant Coleman returned to the United States with a Distinguished Flying Cross in July 1945 to join a carrier squadron. When the war ended he was at Cherry Point learning to fly the SB2C Helldiver.

In 1949, his rookie season with the Yankees, Coleman batted .275 in 128 games and was voted Rookie of the Year.

In May 1953, Coleman was recalled to service during the Korean War. Holding the rank of captain, he flew 63 missions between January and May 1953, piloting an AU-1 Corsair ground attack fighter. He earned a second DFC and a further 13 Air Medals. Coleman later said that the highlight of his life was “flying for the Marines.”

Jerry Coleman flew 57 combat missions in WWII and 63 combat Missions in the Korean War. Jerry Coleman was awarded 13 Air Medals, is in the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame and a Ford C. Frick Award as an announcer being recognized in  the National Baseball Hall of Fame.