Earl Cobeil was born on August 29, 1934, in Pontiac, Michigan. He was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program on June 8, 1956, and went on active duty beginning January 20, 1957. Lt Cobeil next completed Navigator training and was awarded his navigator wings at Harlingen AFB, Texas, in March 1958, followed by Electronic Warfare Officer training at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, from March to October 1958. His first assignment was as an RB-47 Stratojet Electronic Warfare Officer with the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Forbes AFB, Kansas, from October 1958 to October 1962, and then with the 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Forbes from November 1962 to January 1963. Capt Cobeil then served as a B-58 Hustler Defensive Systems Officer with the 64th Bomb Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB, Texas, and then at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, from January 1963 to August 1966, followed by Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1966 to August 1967. After completing F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training, he served as an F-105 Wild Weasel Electronic Warfare Officer with the 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from October 1967 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on November 5, 1967. LtCol Cobeil died while in captivity at the hands of the North Vietnamese on November 5, 1970. His remains were returned to the United States on March 6, 1974, and he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The Air Force Cross is presented to Earl Glenn Cobeil, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from 5 November 1967 until his death while still in captivity on or about 5 November 1970. During this period, Lieutenant Colonel Cobeil demonstrated his extremely strong personal fortitude and maximum persistence in the face of severe enemy harassment and torture, suffering critical injuries and wounds. Through his extraordinary heroism and willpower, in the face of the enemy, Lieutenant Colonel Cobeil reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.