Joseph Randolph Coolidge IV Captain, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:

Joseph R. Coolidge of Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, died on September 1, 1999 at Catholic Memorial Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was 83.

Mr. Coolidge was born and grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, attended Groton School and Harvard College. He served during WWII in the Office of Strategic Services with the rank of Captain. He was initially assigned to an Air Force mapping unit in North Africa. Later he served in India and the Far East. In September 1945, he became the first American casualty of  the Vietnam War, being severely wounded when his team was ambushed by hostile Annamites in Thu Doc, a suburb of Saigon. Ironically, he was rescued by a group of Japanese soldiers. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Croix de Guerre and Purple Heart.

After a long convalescence, J.R., as he was known by family and friends, returned to civilian life in July, 1946. He moved to New York City and entered the publishing business where he met his wife, Peggy Stuart of Boston, an accomplished pianist and composer, whom he married in 1952. Until her death in 1981, he helped arrange concert tours for her in this country and in Europe, even behind the Iron Curtain. Later he retired to New Hampshire where he built a small home overlooking Squam Lake in  the Town of Sandwich.

In October 1991, J.R. attended a commemorative banquet in Washington for the men and women who had served in the OSS during the War. One of these women was Barbara Podoski who also had a remarkable career in the OSS was seated next to J.R. This was the start of a devoted relationship which developed between the two. Henceforth they shared their time together between J.R.’s home on Squam Lake and ”Zuzka’s” in Washington.

A memorial gathering for J.R. will be held on Saturday, September 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Corner House Inn in Sandwich. Family and friends are cordially invited. An interment will be held at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA on October 21 at 11 a.m., to which family and friends will also be welcomed.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/17/1916
  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/01/1999

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