George Coker was born in 1943 in Amarillo, Texas, but grew up in Linden, New Jersey. Before joining the Navy, George attained the rank of Eagle Scout, was a state wrestling champion, and played football. He entered the Navy through the Naval Aviation Officer program in 1963 and was commissioned and received his Naval Flight Officer Wings on August 15, 1964. Coker was trained as an A-6 Intruder navigator-bombardier and deployed to Vietnam with VA-65 aboard the USS Constellation (CVA-64). Lt Coker was forced to eject over North Vietnam on August 27, 1966, and was taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,381 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries and then served as a Flight Instructor with VA-42 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, from August 1973 to May 1974. Coker's next assignment was as Aide and Executive Assistant to VADM James B. Stockdale at Anti-Submarine Warfare Sea Control Wing Pacific at NAS North Island, California, from June 1974 to August 1975. He then attended a U.S. Navy college completion program from September 1975 to July 1976, followed by service with VA-196 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, from August 1976 to May 1979. During this time, CDR Coker served as Admin Officer, Operations Officer, and Executive Officer of VA-196. From June 1979 to April 1980, he served as Air Missile Program Manager for Naval Air Systems Command in Washington, D.C. His next assignment was as Strike Operations Officer aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68) from May 1980 to August 1982, followed by service as Commander of the Fleet Aviation Specialized Operations Detachment of Fleet Aviation Specialized Operational Training Group Atlantic from September 1982 to May 1985. CDR Coker's final assignment was as Commander of the Atlantic Fleet Command Center for the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, where he served from June 1985 until his retirement from the Navy on October 1, 1986. CDR Coker wears Naval Flight Officer Wings and accumulated 1,637 flying hours during his Navy career, mostly in the A-6A and A-6E Intruder. He also has 159 carrier landings. After his retirement from the Navy, George went into aviation support for Special Operations until 1988. George met his wife Pam during a tour in San Diego and they were married on April 26, 1975. They have three children; Theresa, Elizabeth, and Thomas.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism during an extremely daring escape from a solitary confinement cell while a Prisoner of War in Hanoi, North Vietnam on 12 October 1967. During a period of particularly harsh treatment, he and another prisoner executed an escape as a two-man team despite the high risk of brutal reprisal or possible loss of life. That night, after opening the cell door by removing door bolt brackets from inside the room, he proceeded over the wall and through several blocks of housing to the Domer Bridge. Walking under the bridge to the Red River's edge, he swam downstream all night and at sunrise buried himself in the mudbank in an effort to remain concealed. He was later discovered, recaptured, severely beaten for many hours, and banished to solitary confinement for two and a half years. His extraordinary courage, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and dedication to his country reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.