Charles Cole was born on September 27, 1920, in St. Joseph, Missouri. He enlisted in the Kansas National Guard on April 18, 1938, and received an honorable discharge on December 7, 1940. He then enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on October 31, 1941, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Luke Field, Arizona, on May 21, 1942. Lt Cole remained at Luke Field as a flight instructor for two years, and then completed P-51 Mustang training before joining the 77th Fighter Squadron of the 20th Fighter Group in Europe in September 1944. Capt Cole was credited with the destruction of 1 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before transferring to the 55th Fighter Squadron of the 20th Fighter Group in January 1945. He then scored another 4 air victories before being shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War on February 25, 1945. During World War II, he was credited with a total of 5 air victories and 6 more on the ground while strafing enemy airfields. After returning to the United States in June 1945, Maj Cole served as a flight instructor and operations officer at Luke Field and then at Williams AFB, Arizona, until June 1950. He then served as an Exchange Officer with the British Royal Air Force at RAF Little Rissington, England, from August 1950 to June 1952, followed by the Field Officer Course at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from July to December 1952. His next assignment was as Operations Officer and then Executive Officer of the 3615th Air Base Group at Craig AFB, Alabama, from December 1952 to September 1953, and then on the staff of Headquarters Flying Training Air Force at James Connally AFB, Texas, from September 1953 to June 1957. Col Cole served as Commander of the 3305th Pilot Training Group at Malden AB, Missouri, from June 1957 to June 1959, followed by service with Military Assistance and Advisory Group Vietnam as Senior Advisor to the South Vietnamese Air Force at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, from July 1959 to July 1960. His next assignment was on the staff of Headquarter Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force at Ellington AFB, Texas, from October 1960 to July 1964, and then as Operations Staff Officer with the 3560th PIlot Training Wing at Webb AFB, Texas, from July 1964 until his retirement from the Air Force on March 1, 1966. Charles Cole died on October 31, 2003.
His 2nd Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while leading a Squadron of P-51 aircraft on a strafing mission over Germany, 25 February 1945. On this date Captain Cole proceeded to the strafing area where five FW-190's were sighted taking off. Positioning himself on the tail of the lead airplane, he opened fire and caused the enemy aircraft to burst into flames and crash into the ground. Displaying aggressive courage, Captain Cole immediately attained tactical advantage over another hostile fighter and releasing a burst, caused its destruction. In the succeeding engagement Captain Cole's airplane was damaged. Placing the second in command in charge of the Squadron, he attempted to return but was forced to crash land in enemy territory. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by Captain Cole on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.