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Charles Cole

As part of the Veterans History Project for the American Folklife Center of The Library of Congress, James Charles O. Cole of the 301st BG 353rd BS generously contributed the following:

Charles O. Cole

Biographical Infomation

Name: Charles O. Cole

Date of Birth: 1917

Place of Birth: Midland, IN

Note: Chris Girton, veteran's stepdaughter, was interviewed on his behalf.

Gender: Male

Race: Unspecified

Home State: PA

War or Conflict: World War II, 1939-1946

Status: Veteran

Dates of Service: 1942-1945

Entrance into Service:

Branch of Service: Army Air Forces/Corps

Unit of Service: 352nd Bomb Squadron, 301st Bomb Group, 15th Air Force

Location of Service: Sicily; Foggia and Rome, Italy; North Africa; Frankfort, Hanover and Stettin, Germany

Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant

Prisoner of War: Yes

Service Related Injury: Yes

Service History Note: Veteran was a prisoner of war (POW) for 14 months..

Collection Information

Type of Resource: Manuscript: Clippings [6 items] Manuscript: Military papers (orders, personnel/201 files, etc) [1 item]

Interviewer: Larry Ordner

Donor: Richard Lugar

Donor Affiliation/Organization:

Collection #: AFC/2001/001/19704


Cite as: Charles Cole Collection (AFC/2001/001/19704), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress


T/Sgt. Charles O. Cole

Date of Birth 7/17/1920

Entered the service 9/09/42

Honorable Discharge from Camp Atterbury, IN on 8/08/1945

Technical Sergeant, 352nd Bomb Squadron 301st Bomb Group

Battles: Sicilly; Naples-Foggia; Rome-Arno

Decorations and citations: Eame Theater Ribbon w/3 Bronze Stars per WDGO #33/45; Air Medal w/3 Oak Leaf Clusters & 1/Silver Cluster per GO #120, 122, 446/44 Hq 15th AF Purple Heart

His principal duty: Airplane Armorer Gunner, inspected, maintained and repaired all aircraft armament including bomb release mechanism. Fired two 50 caliber machine guns in combat.

Sgt. Cole was on his 48th Mission as a B-17 engineer with the 301st Bomb Group, 352 Bomb Sqd.when his plane was crippled by Flak. the plane struggled on finally crashing in the Adriatic. Three members of the crew were killed. He was a prisoner of war for 14 months and liberated from Stalag with U.S. Forces in Belgium. He had survived long mistreatment, including beatings by Gestapo agents and a forced run through bayonets and rifle butts in which he was injured. A 15th Air Force radio engineer, he was rescued by Italian fishermen in the Adriatic Sea in Feb. 1944, after his B-17 bomber was shot down. He and other survivors of the plane crash were brought to Verona, Italy at less than 40 miles from the Allied lines. There he was questioned for four days and struck repeatedly by Gestapo agents for refusing to answer technical questions. He was kept prisoner at Stalags at Frakfurt, Hanover, Stettin and East Prussia.He along with 4,000 other men were jammed into two barges and forced to stand for 48 hrs. while enroute to Whinemunds, more than 2,000 of the group including Charles Cole were shipped in boxcars to Stettin where they were handcuffed in pairs. They were forced to run 2 & ½ miles to Stalag near Stettin while German marines and SS troops slashed and beat them with bayonets and rifle butts and vicious dogs tore at their legs. Sgt. Cole sustained a dislocated shoulder and broken finger in the "death run" as it was called by survivingprisoners, but received no medical treatment. He saw a Canadian solder survive the run despite 57 bayonet wounds.

Charles returned to Linton, where he drove a truck until 1950 when he met and married Thelma Squires, a widow and helped raise her two children, Christine and Gregory as his own. They moved to Terre Haute where he was a Job Steward at the Eli Lilly plant, while it was being built. He later worked for the Terre Haute newspaper, where he retired. His favorite pastime was going for weekends to their campsite at Valley and Stream campgrounds, and taking his grandson Greg Jr. After his wife Thelma died in 1978 his health began to fail and he passed away in 1983.

MACR: 2596

Charles Cole

T/Sgt. Charles O Cole was assigned to the 301st BG 352nd Squadron.
Military Occupational Specialty (MOS): Engineer/Gunner.

The following information on Charles Cole is gathered and extracted from military records. We have many documents and copies of documents, including military award documents. It is from these documents that we have found this information on T/Sgt. Cole. These serviceman's records are nowhere near complete and we are always looking for more material. If you can help add to Charles Cole's military record please contact us.

  Rank General Order Date Notes Award Ribbon & Device

Charles Cole






Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

Charles Cole






Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

Charles Cole






Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

Charles Cole






Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

2/25/1944 PUC

Please contact us with any biographical data, pictures or other information regarding the service and life of Charles Cole.

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