Shelby Olaf Cole was born in Emberson, Texas, on May 20, 1912, son of Sabbath Olman and Jessie (Caviness) Cole. He attended Paris (Texas) Junior College and Howard Payne College, Brownwood, Texas, and in March 1934 enlisted in the Navy as an Apprentice Seaman. He had training at the Naval Training Station, San Diego, California, and from July 1934 until June 1935 served as a Seaman in the USS Nevada. He next had duty as a Pharmacist’s Mate, Third Class, and X-Ray Technician at the Naval Hospital, San Diego, California.
Appointed Aviation Cadet in the US Naval Reserve in October 1937, he was commissioned Ensign, USNR, on November 1, 1938. He subsequently progressed in rank to that of Commander to date from November 5, 1945, and on July 15, 1946 was transferred to the US Navy.
Upon receiving his appointment in 1937, he reported for flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, designated Naval Aviator on October 4, 1938, he was assigned the next month to Patrol Squadron Seventeen. While attached to that squadron he participated in rescue operations of the crew of the motor vessel Patterson, which was wrecked about eight miles north of Cape Fair-weather on December 11, 1938. In May 1939 he joined Patrol Squadron Forty Two and in June 1941 transferred to Patrol Squadron Forty Four. He was serving with the latter when the United States entered World War II, December 8, 1941.
Between August 1942 and March 1944 he was Flight Instructor at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, and after a month’s duty with Headquarters Squadron, Fleet Air Wing Six, assumed command on June 1, 1944 of Patrol Bombing Squadron Forty Three. He next had instruction, August- October 1945, in P5Y-4 type aircraft at the Naval Air Station, Hutchinson, Kansas, and following further training at the Naval Air Station, Miami, Florida, reported in February 1946 as Executive Officer of the Naval Air Station, Adak, Alaska. During the period April to August of that year he was in command of that Air Station. Continuing service in Adak, he was assigned as Chief Staff Officer to the Commander Naval Operating Base and Executive Officer of the Naval Air Station until March 1947, when he became Executive Officer of the Naval Air Facility, Adak.
Returning to the United States, he reported for instruction at the Naval School, General Line, Newport, Rhode Island. Completing the course there in May 1948, he next served as Assistant Gunnery and Tactics Officer, later Training Officer on the staff of Commander Fleet Air Wing Four. He had temporary duty in the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Advanced Training, Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, between March and May 1950, when he became Executive Officer of the Naval School, All Weather Flight, at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi.
He had instruction at various places while on temporary duty with the Air Force, US Pacific Fleet, from March to May 1952, when he joined the USS Badoeng Strait as Operations Officer. Detached from that aircraft carrier escort in May 1954, he now serves as Executive Officer at th Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Commander Cole has the Naval Reserve Medal; the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Korean Service Medal; and the United Nations Service Medal.