Otis Robert Cole, Jr., was born in New York, on June 8, 1915. He attended Manlius (New York) Preparatory School and Severn Preparatory School, Severna Park, Maryland, before entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from Michigan in 1932. At Annapolis, he participated in football and wrestling, and was a Midshipman Officer. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 4, 1936, he advanced progressively, attaining the rank of Captain to date from February 1, 1955.
Assigned first to the USS Chester after graduation in June 1936, he served for two years in that carrier, a unit of Cruiser Division Five, Scouting Force. In 1938 he was ordered to Asiatic Station where he served in the USS Steward for a year and a half, and briefly in the USS Marblehead. 1940 he returned to the United States and completing instruction at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, he was assigned to the USS Cachalot in January 1941. He was present at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked the Fleet on December 7, 1941; took part in the Battle of Midway, Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the sweep in the China Sea, and served aboard that submarine during her first, Second, and Third War Patrols, during the period 1941-1943.
Returning to the United States, he reported in January for fitting out duty in the USS Muskallunge at the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut, and served briefly in that submarine after her commissioning on March 15, 1943. During the period April to August 1943 he was on board the USS Cuttlefish, after which he commanded the USS O-8 until August 1944. He then served as Executive Officer (and Prospective Commanding Officer) of the Angler during her Fifth (successful) War patrol in the Pacific in October- November 1944. He was detached from the Angler, and on November 21, 1944 assumed command of the USS Dace. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” for outstanding service in command of the Dace, during her Sixth and Seventh War Patrol, respectively. The citations follow in part:
Silver Star Medal; “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action as Commanding Officer of the USS Dace during the Sixth War Patrol… in the South China Sea Area from December 2, 1944 to January 28, 1945. Forced to submerge to 300 feet after enemy depth charge and bombing attacks had inflicted minor damage to his vessel during the performance of a special minelaying mission, Commander Cole skillfully maneuvered to evade further hostile attacks and… launched torpedo attacks against two 4,000-ton Japanese freighters screened by escort vessels, sinking one and damaging the other… “
Bronze Star Medal; “For meritorious service as Commanding Officer of the USS Dace during the Seventh War Patrol of that vessel in the enemy Japanese-controlled waters of the Sea Okhotsk in the vicinity of the Kurile Islands from May 25 to July 10, 1945… (He) delivered gun and torpedo attacks which sank 4,400 tons of hostile shipping and damaged a 1,500-ton frigate. (He was) successful in evading severe enemy countermeasures and bringing his ship back to port….”
Detached from command of the Dace in January 1946, he commanded the USS Cabrilla from January to April 1946, when he was transferred to command of the USS Cabezon. After two years in the latter command, he was ordered to shore duty, his first since graduation. Reporting to Balboa, Canal Zone, in August 1948, he served first as Executive Officer of the Naval Station there, and from December 1949 to September 1950 as Port Director and Overseas Transportation Officer to the Commandant Fifteenth Naval District and a first Commanding Officer of the Military Sea Transportation Service Port Office in the Canal Zone.
He commanded the USS Eversole (DD-789) from November 1950 to January 1952, during which time that destroyer operated in the Korean area of hostilities. He attended the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia until July 1952 and for the next year served as Chief Staff Officer to Commander Service Squadron One, based at San Diego. In August 1953 he reported a Head of Ships Plans Section, Logistic Plans Division in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics), Navy Department, where he remained until July 1955.
Following instruction in Naval Warfare II at the Naval College, Newport, Rhode Island, he reported in July 1956 as Commander Mine Squadron Four, based at Charleston, South Carolina. In September 1957, he became Assistant of the Personnel Military Government and Civil Affairs Division at the Armed Forces Staff College and in July 1959 assumed command of the USS Truckee (AQ-147). He had duty as Deputy Chief of Staff for Project Coordination and Operations and Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force from May 1960 to January 1962, after which he commanded Service Squadron Four.
In July 1963 he was assigned to Task Group Eight Point Three, with headquarters in Washington, DC, and in November of that year was detached for duty a Deputy Director, Office of Naval Warfare Analyses, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. In June 1965 he assumed command of the Naval Station, Annapolis, Maryland.
In addition to the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” Captain Cole has the China Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six engagement stars: American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; Asia Clasp; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal with two stars; United Nations Service Medal; the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars and the Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.