Phillip Cole

USAF, THAILAND, 1967-68

Philip was born in 1945, the first son born to Timothy and Ruth. Their house was located where the current Findlay reservoir is located. In 1960 the family moved to Findlay settling on Hardin street. This would be the first time the family had indoor plumbing and running water.

In 1964 Phil graduated from Findlay High School. He would take a job with his father at the state highway department running a backhoe, grader and a snow plow in the Winter. At the same time, he was taking English classes at Findlay College. 

In 1965 he was recruited to join the Air Force. Phil signed up for a four-year stint, training as an air frame repair mechanic in Amarillo, Texas. He was chosen to become an instructor over the repair course. His primary aircraft was the C-130, a transport and fueling aircraft. He would become an E-4 and sent back to Amarillo to learn how to repair F4 Phantoms. 

His next duty station would be Ubon Air Force base, located in Thailand, where he and his crew were responsible for repairing aircraft damaged by enemy fire while on missions over Vietnam. They would also work on Douglas B-66 Destroyer bombers and F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber aircraft. Phil would occasionally be sent temporary duty to Takhli airbase. 

While Phil was not ever in Vietnam, aircraft landing at Takhli were often fired upon by unseen machine guns as they landed. To eliminate cover for the assailants Agent Orange was sprayed around the entire perimeter. Phil and many of his former crew members suffer from Agent Orange effects.

On the 31st of March 1968, Phil was informed of Emerson’s death. He was ordered to pack up his footlocker as he would not be coming back to Thailand due to the Sullivan Act and that he was the sole remaining son. He would fly home on a C-141 cargo plane out of Japan, with ten passengers and loaded with caskets of fallen soldiers heading back to the states.

Sgt. Cole was given a 30 day leave and instructed to contact his congressman to apply for deferment from returning to hazardous duty. The congressman stated he did not want to become involved and Phil was returned to Thailand.

While performing repair duties Phil was struck in his eye by a metal fragment. Doctors were not able to locate it until it began to rust. It would affect his sight permanently. Due to his injury he would be discharged several months early.

Phil married his high school sweetheart Melinda in 1966. She was able to accompany him to his training site in Amarillo, returning to Findlay when he was deployed to Thailand. 

After his discharge, Phil would take a position at Toledo Express Airport working on commercial aircraft. He would eventually return to Findlay, assuming ownership of Brown’s Garage, welding hitches to all makes of automobiles, RV’s and travel trailers.

He would also work part-time as an auctioneer at Rawson Auction. Phil would earn his auctioneer license and real estate license in 1975. He and Melinda would take ownership of the Red Barn Auction House, running it until 1986. Phil still does auctions and sells real estate though he has slowed down a bit. 

He and Melinda are parents to Ben, Amy, and Alex and have six grandchildren. They also have a furry child named Lucy.