Darrell Samuel Cole, born on 20 July 1920 in Flat River, Mo., son of Samuel R. and Magdalena W. Cole. He played basketball, hunted, and enjoyed photography, and learned how to play the French Horn, an accomplishment that later helped shape his destiny. Cole graduated from high school in 1938 at Esther, Mo., and joined the Civilian Conversation Corps (CCC), where he became an assistant forestry clerk and assistant educational advisor for his company. Leaving the CCC after a year, he went to Detroit, Mich., where he found employment as a machine operator with a firm which specialized in the manufacture of engine gaskets.
On 25 August 1941 at Detroit, Mich., Cole enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve for the duration of the national emergency (resulting from the threat posed by the Axis powers). He completed recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., where his proficiency with the French Horn marked him as a logical candidate for Field Music School, a field music being the Marine Corps equivalent of a bugler. Graduating from the school he was eventually transferred to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. On 7 August 1942, Cole waded ashore with his fellow Marines on Japanese-held Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. land offensive of World War II.
Cole proudly wears his Marine uniform. (Unattributed or dated picture, Cole (DDG-67), Ships Naming Collection, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)
Cole did not relish serving as a field music, however, and when a machine gunner fell wounded, Cole assumed the gunner’s role, acquitting himself in such a manner as to win the praise of his commanding officer. Following the Guadalcanal Campaign he requested that his rating be changed from field music, and that he be allowed to perform the duties of a private first class in his weapons company. The Marine Corps disapproved his request because of a “shortage of field musics.” He returned to the United States on 2 February 1943, and the next month joined the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division, as they formed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. While he awaited their orders to ship out, he again requested to be relieved of his field music duties and perform the “line” service, but was again disapproved for the same reason.
Cole married Margaret B. Willett on Christmas Eve 1943 in San Diego, Calif. Less than a month later he sailed with the 4th Marine Division for the war in the Pacific. He landed on Roi-Namur in Kwajalein Atoll in February 1944, and again forsaking his bugle, went into action as a machine gunner. Four months later on 15 June, Cole served as a machine gunner during Operation Forager -- the fighting on Saipan in the Marianas. Because of his proven leadership ability he was designated a machine gun section leader. When his squad leader fell mortally wounded, Cole, although wounded himself, assumed command of the squad and acquitted himself in such a manner as to later be awarded the Bronze Star “for his resolute leadership, indomitable fighting spirit and tenacious determination in the face of terrific opposition.” Despite his wound, Cole undauntedly then led his men ashore on Tinian. Following his service on Saipan, he once more requested a change in warrant, pointing out his battlefield experience, and the Marine Corps finally approved his request, redesignating him as a corporal of the “line”. He was promoted to sergeant on 5 December 1944 -- to rank from 29 November.
In January 1945, Sgt. Cole sailed with his company for Operation Detachment -- landings on Iwo Jima in the Kazan Rettō (Volcano Islands) by the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions. He led his men ashore on the first day of the landings, 19 February. One of his squads barely reached dry land when a deadly hail of fire from two positions halted their advance. Taking stock of the situation, Cole crawled forward and wiped out both positions with hand grenades. His Marines resumed their advance until three Japanese pillboxes opened fire on them. The Marines returned fire and one of their machine guns silenced one of the pillboxes but then jammed.
Armed only with a pistol and a hand grenade, Cole made a one-man attack against the two remaining positions. He returned twice to his lines for additional grenades and continued his attack under fierce enemy fire until he destroyed the Japanese strong point. Returning to his own squad, an enemy grenade killed him. Cole’s heroic self-sacrifice on 19 February enabled his Marines to move forward against the surviving enemy soldiers and capture their objective. Cole received the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor for “his dauntless initiative, unfaltering courage and indomitable determination during a critical period of action,” serving as “an inspiration to his comrades.” He was buried in the 4th Marine Division’s cemetery on Iwo Jima. At his father’s request, however, his remains were subsequently returned to the United States and reinterred in Park View Cemetery near Farmington, Mo.
The first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of Sgt. Cole.
The first U.S. Navy ship named Cole (Destroyer No. 155), however, was named for Maj. Edward Ball Cole, USMC (1879-1918), served from 1919-1947, and was reclassified to a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG-116) on 30 June 1945 (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/c11/cole.htm).
For the ship’s Command Operations Reports see (http://www.history.navy.mil/research/archives/command-operations-reports/ships/c/cole-ddg-67-i.html).
Additional information is available here: (http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20highlights/usscole/cole-index.htm).
(DDG-67: displacement 8,960; length 505'; beam 66'; draft 31'; speed 30+ knots; complement 356; armament 1 5-inch, 2 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-156 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 8 RGM-84 Harpoons (2 Mk 141 launchers), 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft operate (but not embark) 1 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawk; class Arleigh Burke)
Cole (DDG-67) was laid down on 28 February 1994 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 10 January 1995; sponsored by Mrs. Lee Perry, wife of Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; and commissioned on 8 June 1996 at Port Everglades, Fla., Cmdr. Frederick D. Allard Jr. in command.
Dark blue and gold represent the sea and excellence, and are traditionally associated with the Navy. Red, for blood and courage, denotes valor and sacrifice. The trident symbolizes sea prowess and Cole’s modern warfare capabilities of the Aegis and vertical launch systems. The three tines represent submarine, surface, and air strike capabilities. The three hand grenades commemorate Sergeant Cole’s heroic one-man grenade attack against the Japanese emplacements during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The broken chevron, or wedge, alludes to Cole’s breaking the enemy’s hold, enabling his company to attain its ultimate objective. The three grenades also represent the traits of courage, valor, and honor, commemorating his fighting spirit and dedication.
The blue reversed star highlights the Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Sergeant Cole for his self-sacrifice and extraordinary heroism. The crossed Marine Mameluke and Navy sword signify cooperation and reflects fighting spirit. The French Horn underscores Cole’s service with the Marine Corps as Field Music, and is combined with the swords to symbolize his nickname, “The Fighting Field Music.” The laurel wreath is emblematic of honor and high achievement.
Cole turns swiftly as she maneuvers at speed in the Atlantic Ocean, 14 September 2000. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph Series 000914-N-0000X-002, Navy NewsStand)
Cole, Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold in command, deployed with guided missile frigate Simpson (FFG-56) and Military Sealift Command (MSC)-manned oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189) from Norfolk to the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean on 8 August 2000. Following operations with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, Cole passed southward through the Suez Canal and joined the Fifth Fleet, on 10 and 11 October.
While Cole refueled at Aden, Yemen, on 12 October 2000, two al-Qaeda terrorists brought an inflatable Zodiac-type speedboat that carried a bomb alongside the destroyer, port side amidships, and detonated their lethal cargo. The explosion blew a 40-foot wide hole in Cole, but the crew’s valiant damage control efforts saved her.
The attack killed 17 sailors: 31-year-old Lt. j.g. Andrew Triplett; 35-year-old ETC Richard D. Costelow; 30-year-old EW1 Kevin S. Rux; 21-year-old HT2 Kenneth E. Clodfelter; 24-year-old EN2 Mark I. Nieto; 24-year-old EW2 Ronald S. Owens; 32-year-old OS2 Timothy L. Saunders; 22-year-old MS3 Ronchester M. Santiago; 19-year-old MSSN Lakeina M. Francis; 21-year-old ISSN Timothy L. Gauna; 22-year-old SMSN Cherone L. Gunn; 19-year-old ISSN James R. McDaniels; 22-year-old SN Lakiba N. Palmer; 19-year-old ENFN Joshua L. Parlett; 19-year-old FN Patrick H. Roy; 26-year-old FN Gary Swenchonis Jr.; and 19-year-old SN Craig B. Wibberley. In addition, 42 of their shipmates sustained wounds.
The ships that supported Cole during Operation Determined Response from 12-31 October 2000 included: amphibious assault ship Tarawa (LHA-1); dock landing ship Anchorage (LSD-36); amphibious transport dock Duluth (LPD-6); guided missile destroyer Donald Cook (DDG-75); guided missile frigate Hawes (FFG-53); and Military Sealift Command (MSC)-manned tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF-168); along with Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), and British frigates Cumberland (F.85) and Marlborough (F.233).
Cole carried out emergent repairs and on 29 October stood out of Aden. The following day, MSC-manned heavy lift vessel Blue Marlin loaded the destroyer on board, and sailed her to Pascagoula for extensive repairs, reaching that port on 13 December. Cole’s crewmembers, meanwhile, embarked on board Tarawa on 1 December. They were then flown to larger aircraft which flew them to Rhein-Main AFB Germany the next day, and from there to Norfolk on 3 November. Cole’s sailors then completed convalescent leave through 1 December, and the ship returned to the water on Christmas Eve, though continuing repairs and maintenance into 2001. The USS Cole (DDG-67) Memorial was dedicated to honor the memory of the victims, on 12 October 2001 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. The Navy subsequently enhanced global force protection training during crucial transits, and sailors qualified to fire M60 and Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns to defend against assaults by low-slow flying aircraft and small boats.
Norwegian heavy lift vessel Blue Marlin positions Cole over her deck. Blue Marlin is a uniquely designed Military Sealift Command-manned ship, which slowly fills her ballast tanks, submerging her deck until only the deck house and two aft towers rise above the waves. She then slowly empties her ballast tanks and the deck rises again to accommodate Cole. (“MV Blue Marlin lifts precious cargo,” Sgt. Don L. Maes, USMC, Military Sealift Command)
The FBI deploys more than 100 agents from its Counterterrorism Division, FBI Laboratory, and various field offices to Yemen to investigate the attack, and one of them snaps this close up photograph of the damage to Cole after she is positioned on board Blue Marlin. (Unattributed or dated FBI photograph, Famous Cases and Criminals, FBI)
Blue Marlin completes loading Cole and begins her voyage to transport the destroyer to Pascagoula for repairs. (“MV Blue Marlin lifts precious cargo,” Sgt. Don L. Maes, USMC, Military Sealift Command)
Cole returns to the water following repairs at Pascagoula, 14 September 2001. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph Series 010914-N-0000X-002, Navy NewsStand)
The ship defiantly resumes patrolling the Gulf of Aden, 29 August 2006. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher L. Clark, U.S. Navy Photograph 060829-N-4856C-025, Navy NewsStand)
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
2 December 2014