In the newer section of Hopewell Historic Cemetery, I found this tombstone:
I’ve never seen times recorded on a tombstone, so I knew then that I would be doing more research to learn about this young pilot.
Warrant Officer Cole was from Richmond, Indiana, and was born in nearby Hamilton, Ohio. It appears from his obituary that Cole’s parents were divorced – his father lived in Richmond, Indiana, and his mother in College Corner, Ohio. He had three sisters, a brother, and stepbrother. He graduated from Union High School in College Corner, Ohio, in 1968. I don’t know if he enlisted or was drafted, but Cole entered basic training in 1968 after graduation. At the time of his death, he left four grandparents and one great-grandmother to mourn him.
However he got there, he ended up in Vietnam in 1970 in the 101st Airborne Division, 158th Aviation Battalion, Company C. His helicopter was shot down during a supply run in 1970, which helps explain the precision with which the moment of his death is noted (although some of the information from the Company website online disputes that his death was immediate). There are a variety of sources where you can learn more Warrant Officer Cole, including the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. The VHPA even has a short comment from one of Cole’s fellow soldiers, who helped look for the wreckage. Punctuated reports of the helicopter crash that killed Cole and his two crewmates are also here.
A memorial was held for Cole in the local American Legion post in 2003 that his surviving family attended. Cole is remembered on the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial (The Wall) in Washington on Panel 10 West line 60, D.C., as well as on the Freedom Fountain in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana. You are not forgotten, Warrant Officer Cole.