Mike Colalillo Medal of Honor Scholarship 2023 Winner Announced
Pictured: Craig Douglas, Patrick Douglas and Sarah Douglas
Aurora, Minnesota native honors his grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran
Patrick Douglas of Aurora, Minnesota was awarded the 2023 Mike Colalillo Medal of Honor Scholarship. The presentation ceremony was held in the Veterans Memorial Hall Museum at the St. Louis County Depot on January 22, 2024.
Patrick, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, accepted the $1,500 scholarship from Michele (Colalillo) Schneeberger, Mike’s daughter, and Andrew Meyer, Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Hall Advisory Committee.
Pictured: Patrick Douglas, Michele Colalillo-Schneeberger and Andrew Meyer
As part of his application, Patrick Douglas wrote a 10-page, annotated essay about his grandfather, Boatswain 3rd Class David M. Skelton, and his service in the US Navy aboard the USS Duluth.
“Grandpa’s plan was to attend UMD to study Psychology with the hopes of becoming a school guidance counselor.” Patrick Douglas wrote in his essay, “His Grandpa Dave always answered ‘Vietnam,’ when he was asked where he went to college.”
David Michael Skelton enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1969 and was assigned to the USS Duluth in May 1970 which served in conflict during the Vietnam War. He participated in the Easter Offensive of 1972.
Pictured: David Michael Skelton
The USS Duluth (LDP-6) also participated the Operation Frequent Wind which was noted by the evacuation of Saigon near the end of the war.
After telling David M. Skelton’s story, Patrick Douglas closed his essay with these words:
“I am so thankful that Grandpa Dave was one of the lucky ones who was able to live to tell his story. I hope that my writing this scholarship essay will take his stories out of that box in his head he has kept them in for so long, and into their much-deserved place as a part of our local history.”
Pictured: Michael “Mike” Colalillo
Company C, 1st Battalion
398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division
Mike Colalillo was the last known surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient in the State of Minnesota. He was born and raised in St. Louis County, and he dropped out of school when his mother died so he could help support the family. Following the war, Mr. Colalillo raised three children in Duluth, Minnesota. To learn about his military service, visit https://www.thehistorypeople.org/m-colalillo-scholarship.
Veterans Memorial Hall, a program of St. Louis County Historical Society, honors Mr. Colalillo by awarding annual scholarships to students who live in and/or go to school in St. Louis County, Minnesota.
The Mike Colalillo Medal of Honor Scholarship Fund is fiscally administered by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, 324 West Superior Street, Suite 700, Duluth, MN, 55082. Donations to the scholarship may be made online or by mail.