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Cole was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1915. After graduating from high school he went to work on a farm for 75 dollars per month plus room and board. He learned to make maple syrup and on his time off he liked to hunt and fish. Cole is one of six children; three girls and three boys. He was the fifth.Cole didn't play sports in school but was a member of the YMCA where he was on the wrestling team.His desire to fly started at a young age. As a child he would watch aircraft fly over the armored cars going to the bank.Cole began attending courses at Ohio University and was between his sophomore and junior years he learned of a program called the Civilian Pilot Training Program. In order to get in the program he had to sign a statement stating that in the time of a national emergency he would make himself available or go to Leavenworth [Annotator's Note: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas].In late June he had completed the course. Cole put his name in for navy flying and for army flying. Things were slow so he went to Fort Thomas, Kentucky and enlisted; soon after he received orders to report to Parks Air College in East St. Louis, Illinois for the primary part of the course. Then he went to San Antonio to Randolph Field and when he completed that he went to Kelly Field. In July of 1941 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Reserve and assigned to the 17th Bombardment Group which was equipped with B-18s and B-23s. Shortly after he arrived they started receiving the B-25s.In September 1941, Cole's group was sent to Jackson, Mississippi, Augusta, Georgia, and South Carolina on maneuvers supporting army ground forces. In early December they got orders to report back to Pendleton [Annotator's Note: Pendleton Army Air Base, Oregon]. They flew across the country and on 5 December they landed at March Field in California. They were to leave on Monday but on Sunday they learned that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. They left at 4:00 o'clock in the morning on Monday. They returned to Pendleton where they began flying anti-submarine flights until February 1942 when Cole received word that they were being transferred to Columbia, South Carolina. They thought from there they would end up in North Africa.
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