Cole Black was born on November 28, 1932, in Lake City, Minnesota. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 25, 1950, and served as an aviation electronics technician and made Petty Officer First Class before receiving his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1955. He next went through flight training and became a Naval Aviator in February 1957. He spent four years as an aerial reconnaissance pilot before flying the F-8 Crusader. Capt Black began flying combat missions in the F-8 in 1966 and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam on June 21, 1966. He spent the next 2,428 days as a Prisoner of War of the North Vietnamese before being released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. After his return, Capt Black served as Executive Officer of VF-126 at NAS Miramar from October 1973 to October 1974, Commanding Officer of VF-126 at NAS Miramar from October 1974 to October 1975, Executive Officer of the USS New Orleans, LPH-11, from January 1976 to July 1978, Executive Officer at NAS Miramar from July 1978 to June 1981, he attended Attache Training in Washington, D.C., and language training at Roslyn from July 1981 until July 1982, and he served as Naval Attache to Mexico in Mexico City flying the Embassy Beech King Air from July 1982 until June 1985. He retired from the Navy on July 1, 1986. Cole served as President of NAM-POWs from June 2003 until May 2006. Cole Black was killed in an airplane crash on November 9, 2007.
His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. In October 1967, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessionals for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting intering
attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.