Sunday, June 23, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: Charles W. Cole

Prepared by: CDR Greg Cole, USN (Retired), (son)

Born in 1929 and raised in Springfield, Oregon, CAPT Charles ‘Charlie’ Cole graduated in 1950 from Oregon State University. Commissioned an Ensign from NROTC, he immediately reported aboard USS Brush (DD-745). Thus began a 30-year naval career spanning two wars.

During the Korean War, the “Brush” was struck by a mine. Ensign Cole was instrumental in saving the lives of many of his shipmates as well as the ship itself. For his heroism, he was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest award for valor. He was subsequently awarded two Bronze Stars, with combat “V” for valor, in Vietnam while serving as Commanding Officer, USS Hollister (DD788).

CAPT Cole’s other shipboard assignments included USS Bedoing Straight (CVE-116); USS Finch (DER-328); USS Carpenter (DD-825); and Chief Engineer, USS Hancock (CVA-19). Shore duty assignments included instructor, curriculum head, and Admissions Board member, US Naval Academy; Chief of Staff, DESFLOT 5; Chief, Mutual Defense Assistance Office, Japan; and Commanding Officer, Naval Inactive Ships Facility, Bremerton, Washington.

Retiring in 1979, CAPT Cole embarked on an equally distinguished civilian career. He first served as Executive Director of the Business Regulation Study Center, University of Oregon. He subsequently became an adjunct professor and Director of Computing Activities before rising to the University’s Director of the International Business Program, Graduate School of Management. As director, he originated, implemented, and conducted graduate level international business courses and assisted local small businesses expand into exporting

CAPT Cole’s community service spanned decades as a county, state, and national appointee; Rotary District Governor and Rotary International senior advisor; senior officer in the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA); and founding member of Mothers
Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

An individual of incredibly diverse and distinguished service both in and out of uniform, CAPT Cole has tirelessly given of himself and is most deserving of the many accolades received along the way. Married for 66 years to Colleen, CAPT Cole is an unabashedly proud husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. To all who know him, Charlie is a man much accomplished, much respected, and much loved.

The Avenue of Heroes Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 230 hometown heroes to date. On May 20, 2023, another 15 were honored. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011, the program was inspired spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly throughout the city and the local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Avenue of Heroes program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Bella Villarin
Bella Villarin
Bella is a proud military brat who has been a resident of Coronado since 2015. She was born in Japan, and after a short stay in Virginia, traveled extensively throughout Asia while living in Singapore and picking up another language. A senior at Coronado High School, Bella can be found at the driving range or golf course when not in school, studying, writing, playing the guitar, or spending time with her family. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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