Oklahoma WWII veteran celebrates centennial birthday
By JEFF ELKINS | The Norman Transcript | Published: January 31, 2021
NORMAN, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — Over the last week,
Through church at
If asked about the kind of person Cole is, some of his loved ones would likely mention his sense of humor.
"He's just a funny guy who has a lot of good stories," said
After graduating high school in his hometown of
"Because he was helping the war effort, he did not have to join the armed services, but he felt it was his duty to enlist in the
On his first flight, Barbara Cole said his plane was hit by a German bullet which should have exploded, "blowing it to smithereens."
"The bullet went through the plane and exploded beyond the bomber," she said. "John immediately thanked God for protecting them."
On another of his missions, Cole was struck by a piece of an exploding anti-aircraft shell, which lodged under his skin on his lower back. In a separate mission, he was hit in the helmet with a piece of flak.
While stationed in
"I guess they had enough of John and his crew," Barbara Cole said.
In addition to WWII, Cole served during the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, serving for 33 years before retiring to
He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he obtained a bachelor and master's degree in accounting, setting up a career in the field.
"I got recalled to active duty after college and spent my last 25 years of service being assigned wherever the
Cole said he has kept life interesting by staying true to his curious nature.
"I have always been inquisitive, and that's what keeps me going," he said. "I have looked problems right in the face to try and do what is right and that's how I raised my four boys. You stick your nose in your boys' business if you see them going bad. I guess I've been a nosy bastard and I got acquainted with a lot of people that way."
"The best way to be wealthy is to have relationships that are rich in content," Harrison said in the letter. "From what I've heard about you, you could be the world's richest man. Wisdom without relationships isn't helpful. Relationships without wisdom leads to trouble. Thank you for a life well lived."