B24 Liberator heavy bomber
Military occupational specialty radar mechanic (Nav) 853
Military Awards: European African Middle Eastern Service Air Medal; American Theatre Ribbon; Good Conduct Medal; World War II Victory Medal
Battles and Campaigns: Rhineland; Central Europe; Ardennes
Married Frances (Parlato) Cole on June 2, 1951
Father to Gordon, Carolyn, Vincent, Philip and Jo Anne
Grandfather to Bria, Matthew, Justin, Mark, Adam, Michael, Erica, Kelly, Kevin, Katie, Lauren and Johnathan
Great-grandfather to Emma, Mason and Olivia
Gordon joined the 466th Bombardment Group (heavy) on May 19, 1943. The group was activated on Aug 1, 1943, and prepared for duty overseas with the B24 liberator. The unit moved to England in February 1944 and was assigned to the Eight Air Force. Gordon entered combat on March 2, 1944 by participating in daylight raids on Berlin operating primarily as a strategic bombardment unit. His units struck targets as marshalling yards at Liege, an airfield at St. Trond, a repair and assembly plant at Reims, an airdrome at Chatres, factories at Brunswick, oil refineries at Bohlen, aircraft plants at Kempten and various military strategic targets.
Other operations included attacking pillboxes along the coast of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Gordon flew his last combat mission on April 25, 1945 striking a transformer station at Traunstein.
Sgt. Gordon K. Cole Jr. was a radar mechanic on a B24 8th Air Force 466th Group 787th bombardment. He was involved with the daylight bombings over Germany on D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Daylight bombings were some of the most dangerous missions during the war; the targets were far from their bases and enemy fire was expected. When viewing Sergeant Gordon's plane (The Peggy Sue) Serial 42-51185, I clearly saw the 35 bombing missions credited to its crew; thirty-five daytime flights over hostile enemy territory looking for and locating prime enemy targets then destroying them. Anywhere from oil refineries to ball bearing plants, Sgt. Gordon K. Cole's duties were to confirm enemy aircraft approaching the Liberator along with confirming our own planes kept safe flying space.
Sgt. Gordon's military story includes making his way to England on the cruiseliner ship called the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary at that time was the pride of luxury cruise ships because of her size and speed. She was painted grey and filled with members of the U.S. Military along with essential war equipment vital for war effort. At that time, the Queen Mary could outrun most Nazi submarines. The B24 crews and planes were needed quickly because of the poor record we had in our nighttime bombing raids. Daytime bombing was our last hope we had in destroying Germany's mighty war machine.
Many times the Peggy Sue received fire from enemy fighters and numerous close calls with anti-aircraft flack. Sgt. Cole made it through the war fine except he did come down with yellow fever in July 1944 and later with typhus in Sept 1944. According to records I found, the Peggy Sue was used to transport big band members on a U.S.O. show tour in England. The big named band member on the Peggy Sue on one flight was Captain Glenn Miller.
Gordon K. Cole was born Nov. 5, 1923. The blonde hair son of Gladys (Ringer) Cole and Gordon K. Cole born in Canadaigua, N.Y. He attended the local grade school. While attending Tech High School, Gordon loved reading, chemistry and electronics. He later attended the University of Buffalo. After his military obligation was completed, Gordon was employed with the Sylvania Plant. He then decided to start his own shop and moved to Miami and was a television repair man. He then returned back to Dunkirk in 1957 and started to complete the raising of his family of five children. Receiving a position with Ralston Purina, Gordon and his family made their home on Fourth Street in Dunkirk.
Gordon K. Cole was a husband, father, brother, friend and good neighbor. He loved music and collected all the popular records of the day. He also had a big affection for the big Buick cars but his profession was electronics. He loved it so much that after a full day's work, he came home and continued tinkering with some friend or neighbor's television or radio that wouldn't work anymore. There was not a television that Gordon could not save. No matter how he got them, "No, I can't fix that" was never in his vocabulary. Whenever a new electronic item hit the market, he was up on it finding the wiring diagrams and telling anyone interested what made that new thing work. Always trying to keep up with progress. He was another Mr. Fix-It; like some who try and some who can't, Gordon could. He had every tool, every bolt, every screw in its place. Some say he could find what he needed in the middle of the night with the lights off.
Along with his electronic and mechanical skills, Gordon took time to enjoy reading and stamp collecting. He was a member of the American Philatelic Society and a long time member and former member of the Dunkirk Fredonia Stamp Club. He had started a stamp collection for each and every child in his family. With all that on his plate Gordon also had a love for photography. He had his own dark room and developed the majority of his photos.
Spending an evening with Fran, his wife, I got to learn so much about this Army Air Corp Veteran. I had known Gordon's daughter for some years but really never asked about her dad and now I ask myself why? So many things I could have asked Mr. Cole. So many stories he could have told me. The Army Air Corp branch doesn't even exist anymore. It's now called the United States Air Force. Fran had told me Gordon questioned everything and was always interested in any subject that came up.
Why can't we all be like Gordon? All these World War II and Korean Veterans that still live in our area loaded with memories that they hold inside. Gordon Cole you are a hero. I am sorry I never got to talk to you about Peggy Sue, the good times you had as well as the bad times. That one mission you took that hit that factory or transformer, it may have been the start of Germany's downfall. We will never know. Gordon Cole, you are a local hero.