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Honoring Our Heroes

IN MEMORY OF: EVERETT K. COLE

March 7, 1949 - September 1, 2023

Lance Corporal (Ret.) Everett K. Cole left this world suddenly on Friday evening, 9/1/2023. He was 74 years old. He leaves behind his wife of 53 years, Alice Law Cole, daughters Tina Cole Campbell, Meloney (Eric) Gwin, and Helen Diboll as well as grandchildren, nieces, great nieces, nephews, uncle and cousins. He was a man who loved his family, friends and his country. He enjoyed being a Marine and loved God. A Celebration was held in his honor on October 7, 2023 at Vaughn Park Church of Christ on Vaughn Road. The celebration was as tribute not only to Everett, but to his Marine comrades who became such an important part of his life.

Taps and Reveille by Raymond Keel with Buglers of America, as well as prayers, bagpipes, songs and personal stories of commitments and friendships will last in memory forever.

Everett K. Cole was a u. S. Marine who served in combat in VietNam, stepped on a mine May 22, 1969 and immediately suffered the loss of the right leg at the ankle with multiple severe shrapnel injuries to the left lower leg, damage to the knee and severe muscle damage to the left thigh. Heroic measures of doctors and nurses saved the left leg from amputation, at that time. The left leg was amputated above the knee in August, 2014, due to a series of infections following five failed knee replacements.

He remained steadfastly loyal to the Marine Corps and the United States. This remarkable man’s life personifies courage and determination to survive and to achieve in spite of extreme circumstances. He received the following medals and awards for his military service: Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal with ‘V’, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, VietNam Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 devices.

Everett was born March 7, 1949, in Moss Point, MS, to his parents, C.W. Cole and Helen R. Cole. He was reared in Century, FL, Cantonment, FL, and Pensacola, FL, and he attended Tate High School through the 10th grade and attended Escambia High School until March,1967. In May, 1968, he was notified to report for a physical for the military draft and then joined the U. S. Marine Corps May 20, 1968, at age 19. He completed Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island, SC, October 21, 1968, and he was sent to the Marine Corps Camp LeJeune, NC, for infantry training for eight weeks. After reporting to the Marine Corps Camp Pendleton, CA, he received two more weeks of training followed by five days in Okinawa arriving for combat in VietNam February 6, 1969.

Everett’s four months tour of duty in VietNam ended when he triggered a landmine resulting in catastrophic injuries to his legs. Everett concluded that because his injuries occurred about 10:15 a.m. instead of p.m., he was quickly medevaced by helicopter to a Naval hospital in Vietnam by 10:30 a.m. which prevented his becoming a casualty. He also credited God’s hand in saving his life. One hour before he was wounded, the lieutenant leading his unit had the patrol element practice drills to know what to do if someone might be wounded. Everett’s best friend was assigned to carry the radio for the squad, and this was his first patrol as radio man. When the explosion went off, Everett could hear the transmission for a chopper. As it turned out, a chopper with the call sign “Lady Ace” intercepted the message and stated that he was in the air with another wounded Marine and could take a couple more Marines. This Lady Ace became Everett’s rescue angel. The records show total rescue time was 12 minutes! After triage in Vietnam, he was sent to the 106th U.S. General Army Hospital in Yokohama, Japan, for three weeks where more of his right leg was amputated followed by treatment at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, for four months. Everett was then sent to the VA Hospital in Montgomery, AL, where he met his future wife, Alice, who was employed there. After one year of treatment in military and VA hospitals, he was discharged May 30, 1970. Everett was medically retired from military service and in 1974 given permanent medical disability retirement from the Marine Corps.

Everett stated, “I have lived my life to the fullest and the best that I could. Vietnam stole my youth. I never had a chance to grow up.” He married in 1970, and using the Chapter 31, Vocational Rehab benefits from the VA, he attended Alabama Christian College (Faulkner University) for two years receiving an Associate Degree transferring to Huntingdon College graduating with a B.A. in Secondary Education in May, 1975. Instead of teaching, Everett was offered a job with the VA, where he worked at the VA Regional Office in Montgomery reaching the level of GS-13. He helped veterans by reviewing decisions made about veterans including processing education awards for G.I. Bill requests, reviewing disability ratings and serving as an adjudicator on legal documents retiring April 4, 2004, at the end of 30 years of service.

Since retirement, Everett enjoyed playing guitar, fishing, hunting, bush hogging, cutting trails and preparing roads on his farm in rural Montgomery County, AL, traveling with his wife to visit all 50 States for which he had given his legs and being with his three daughters and eight grandchildren. He and his wife attended the Liberty Church of Christ in Hope Hull, AL. Everett served as the Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 2205 whose members have all answered America’s call, and now as combat wounded veterans, they continue to serve America by helping active duty military, veterans, their families and those who have borne the burden of the battle.

Everett was also a Lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and a member of the America Legion. He was active in Veteran non-profit support organizations such as AHEROusa, Soldiers Freedom Outdoors, The Independence Fund, Independence Corps, and Purple Heart Cruise encouraging and being encouraged

Although Everett suffered traumatic injuries at age 19, he retained his loyalty to the U. S. Marine Corps saying, “It gave me the ability to overcome saying, “I can’t.’ It gave me the drive to be the kind man that I should be. I believe in courage, commitment and honor. I’ve tried to live my life by that including God, family and the Corps. My wife of 49 years deserves the title of Marine as much as I do because of what she has gone through with me. I have always had a wife who listens.”

 

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