Dick Cole grew up on a farm with two older siblings in the mountains of North Georgia, the son of an engineer and a school teacher. He decided to attend West Point after learning about it through a television show. While at the Academy, he enjoyed the military training, and initially planned to branch Armor, but chose Infantry instead because he felt the war in Vietnam was a noble cause. His initial assignment was with A Company, 1-325 Infantry in the 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to the Dominican Republic as a Platoon Leader, and remembers being shot at for the first time. After returning from the Dominican Republic, he deployed to Vietnam and was assigned as an advisor to the 8th Battalion of the Vietnamese Airborne. During his service as an advisor, he received his first Silver Star. He extended his tour in Vietnam and was reassigned to A Company, 1-27 Infantry “Wolfhounds” in the 25th Infantry Division. During his time in the Wolfhounds, he received his second Silver Star following a battle near Quan Dau Tieng, Republic of Vietnam, on 5 November 1966. Later, he earned a third Silver Star for actions while assaulting an enemy unit in a wooded area outside Saigon. Upon returning to the United States in March, 1967, he taught ROTC at North Georgia, and married Barbara, a Peace Corps English teacher. He returned to Vietnam in 1972, and was assigned to MACV-Headquarters while American forces were pulling out of Vietnam. Returning from Vietnam, he was assigned to Fort Ord, California, where he worked on the program to develop the 3-round-burst function on the M-16. Later assignments included Commanding 1-13 IN in Baumholder, Germany, and a stint at the War College before transferring to the Pentagon, where he worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Research Development and Engineering. He retired from the military in 1985.
In this interview, Dick Cole talks about his childhood, his West Point experience, and his career in the Army. He describes his deployments to Vietnam, and the actions for which he earned three Silver Stars. He also discusses his experiences as an ROTC instructor and his professional education. Finally, he expresses what West Point means to him.