LeGrande Ogden Cole, Jr.
Commander, United States Navy
Remains Returned November 3, 1988.
LeGrande Ogden Cole, Jr. entered the Naval Air Cadet Division Program at Pensacola in August, 1961, and received his wings at Corpus Christi in March, 1963. He completed 100 combat missions during his first tour of duty in Vietnam from the USS INTREPID and returned to the INTREPID for a second tour ofduty as a member of Attack Squadron 15.
On June 30, 1967, Commander Cole launched in his A4C Skyhawk attack aircraft as a member of a flight which was to execute an air strike on the thermal power plant at Vinh, North Vietnam. He was section leader of a four plane division of bomber aircraft. Cole initiated the attack with his wingman and encountered heavy opposition from anti-aircraft artillery. As they approached the target, Commander Cole called, "rolling in", which was the last communication from him.
Cole's wingman lost sight of him after their initial bombing run among the flak bursts which were all around the area. The wingman did report seeing an explosion far to the south of the target. He assumed that it was a stray bomb but later decided it must have been Cole's aircraft hitting the ground. Other witnesses observed a large fireball to the south of the target. It appeared larger than a bomb blast. Bomb assessment photographs of the target and vicinity were taken by an RF8A aircraft shortly after the attack. Examination of the photographs revealed no identifiable aircraft wreckage or indications of a survivor. Electronic reconnaissance of the area was maintained by A1 and A4aircraft until late afternoon on June 30. No emergency beacon or voicetransmissions were detected.
On July 1, 1967, a Radio Hanoi broadcast claimed that two U.S. aircraft had been shot down and the pilots captured. One was shot down over Thanh Hoa and the other over Vinh. Since none of the pilots were identified as Cole, his status was not changed from Missing In Action.
In 1975, information was received which possibly correlated to the loss of Cdr.Cole. This information concerned the sighting of a dead American pilot at approximately the same time and place that Cole was lost. The source's description of the body roughly fits that of Commander Cole.
Because Cole's plane went down in the vicinity of a heavy enemy force, therewas every reason to believe the Vietnamese can account for him - alive or dead.
In November 1988, remains were returned by the Vietnamese said to be those of Cdr. Cole. Positive identification was made by the Central Identification Laboratory and confirmed independently by Dr. Michael Charney. Commander Cole was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on May 5, 1989.
LeGrande Cole's family finally knows his fate,
and no longer hang in the tortuous balance of uncertainty. Nearly 2500
other families cannot rest, however until they get answers. Tragically,
thousands of reports have been received convincing many experts that there
are still hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.
Cole was a prisoner every single day the Vietnamese refused to ship his
body home. How many will die before we bring them home?