Coweta native Cole to be inducted into Dustoff Hall of Fame

By W. WINSTON SKINNER Warrant Officer Timothy Cole Jr., who grew up in Coweta County and lost his life in the Vietnam War, will be inducted into the Dustoff Hall of Fame. "Tim was what's called a dustoff pilot," said his sister, Carol Gullatt, who now lives in Macon. "They go off and rescue the wounded."
The dustoff pilots and crews learned many lifesaving techniques. "Tim learned to do a tracheotomy using a ballpoint pen," Gullatt said. The Dustoff Association sponsors the Hall of Fame. This year's Hall of Fame induction will be held during the 2009 Dustoff Reunion in San Antonio, Texas. The reunion will start Friday and continue through Feb. 22. Cole is being added to the Hall of Fame this year along with Col. Edward G. Bradshaw, LTC Vincent J. Cedola and Col. Otis D. Evans. Bradshaw, Cedola and Evans are still living. Gullatt and her sister, Angela Cole, are planning to attend the Hall of Fame ceremonies. The nomination for Tim Cole follows: "Warrant Officer Timothy Cole Jr. is nominated for induction into the Dustoff Hall of Fame for his unselfish service and humanitarian impact on the Dustoff Community, which he served with dignity, honor, and valor. During his short nine months as a dustoff pilot, he set standards that would be hard to equal by his legacy where he demonstrated courage, exemplary leadership abilities, compassion, and unmatched respect from all with whom he served. He was an intensely dedicated, mission-oriented dustoff pilot, with a true love of God, flight, and the humanitarian cause he flew for. Those wounded in combat were given the chance to rejoin their loved ones again. "Timothy Cole Jr. was born in Coweta County on Dec. 19, 1946. He was the first child born to Louise and Tim Cole Sr., operators of a large dairy farm in Newnan. Tim graduated from Newnan High School with the class of 1964 and attended Georgia Tech for two years. During the summer vacation after his first year at Georgia Tech, while other students were enjoying their time off, Tim, a very active member of the Baptist Student Union, spent his summer helping to build a new church for the Cherokee Nations in North Carolina. "During a time when the country was going through turbulent times of demonstrations against the war, which at times became violent and disruptive against the principles of the United States and her Armed Forces, Tim still felt a call of duty to serve his country. Even though he was exempt from the military draft, he decided to serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Army in the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviation Program. He graduated fifth in his class on Dec. 15, 1967, with Warrant Officer Candidate Class 67-21. After graduation from the Army Medical Department's 'Essential Medical Training for AMEDS Aviators' at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in February 1968, Tim was assigned to the 45th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), where he served with the 1st Flight Platoon at Long Binh, Vietnam. "Tim was a fast learner, and under the leadership of Dustoff Hall of Fame member, Jim Truscott, his flight platoon leader, he quickly earned the designation of Aircraft Commander. He performed this duty above and beyond what most would expect of such a low-time combat pilot. As 'Dustoff 19,' his flying abilities as a highly decorated dustoff pilot became legendary. As a mentor, Tim had a tremendously positive influence on many of the new pilots arriving in country fresh out of flight school. "Two have become Dustoff Hall of Fame members. Because of Tim's exceptional performance as a dustoff pilot during the autumn of 1968, Tim and his crew, co-pilot James Cassel, flight medic Specialist 5 Alex Montanez, and crew chief Specialist 4 George Boins, were featured in a United States Army Vietnam (USARV) article titled 'Dustoff One Nine.' "In early October Tim returned from R&R in Hawaii where he and his wife Peggy had celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Tim was transferred to the 54th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) at Chu Lai as an Aircraft Commander, due to pilot shortages. Sadly, on Oct. 18, 1968, while serving as an Aircraft Commander for the 54th Med, in the true 'Kelly' spirit -- 'When I have your wounded' -- Tim gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He was mortally wounded by hostile action on a dustoff mission, doing what he loved doing best -- helping others. Even though Tim's life was cut short after serving only nine months as a dustoff pilot, he flew over 800 missions and evacuated more than 1,600 wounded armed forces personnel and civilians. "The following is an excerpt, probably written by Jim Truscott, taken from the Dustoff III-IV Corps Newsletter that highlighted dustoff activities during the 1968 time period: 'Medical Service aviation suffered a tremendous loss in October with the death through hostile action of WO1 Timothy Cole Jr. W01 Cole was transferred from the 1st Flight Platoon of the 45th to the 54th Medical Detachment (Hel Amb) in Chu Lai during late October and was killed as his aircraft went down less than one week later during a medical evacuation mission. Tim "Dustoff 19" was highly decorated for his actions with the 45th and was a true professional in every sense of the term. His memory will long be honored by those privileged to serve with him.' "When we remember Tim Cole as 'Dustoff 19' in combat, we think of the many heroic missions he accomplished. During his time, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. The following are excerpts from several missions for which Tim received his awards: "'While returning from a routine patient transfer he monitored an urgent radio request from an element of the American Division requesting the evacuation of two soldiers seriously wounded. Without support of helicopter gunships or tactical fighter aircraft, he diverted his helicopter to the position of the friendly unit, which was receiving heavy enemy fire. Although subjected to small arms fire during his approach to the friendly unit's position, he skillfully maneuvered his helicopter into the unsecured landing zone and received the wounded American soldiers.' "'During a nighttime field standby, an urgent request was received to evacuate numerous casualties that resulted from a Viet Cong assault on the village of My Tho. Upon arrival at the battle site, Tim Cole saw that the Viet Cong had the village surrounded. Ignoring heavy hostile fire, he expertly maneuvered his helicopter without landing lights to the first two pickup points and successfully evacuated the wounded to medical facilities. Upon returning, he was informed that the final evacuation landing zone was a small area surrounded by tall obstacles. He maneuvered through a difficult 100-foot descent into the evacuation point and loaded the final casualties.' "'While answering an urgent request to rescue a number of Vietnamese solders near Can Giouc, making a low-level, high-speed approach to the pickup site, his helicopter came under intense fire from enemy positions less than 100 meters away. Despite the murderous fusillade, he held his position until all the casualties were safely aboard. After transporting them to a nearby medical facility, he returned and expertly accomplished another extraction while armor-piercing bullets slashed his helicopter. He then returned to the same area and made two more extractions in a flooded rice patty in full view of the enemy forces.' "Those who had the privilege of serving with Warrant Officer Tim Cole Jr. will always remember him as a true to the heart friend and one of the greatest dustoff pilots they ever served with. Tim's legacy will carry on for generations from the contributions he made. Tim was one of those rare individuals who didn't ask for anything for himself, but gave freely to others in need without hesitation or regard for his own safety."

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