U.S. MARINE - VIETNAM - Purple Heart - BRONZE STAR
Everett K. Cole is a U. S. Marine who served in combat in Vietnam, stepped on a mine May 22, 1969 and immediately suffered the loss of the right leg at the ankle with multiple severe shrapnel injuries to the left lower leg, damage to the knee and severe muscle damage to the left thigh. Heroic measures by the doctors and nurses saved the left leg from amputation, at that time.
In August of 2014, his left leg was amputated above the knee due to a series of infections following five failed knee replacements. He remains steadfastly loyal to the Marine Corps and the United States. Everett’s life personifies courage and determination to survive and to achieve in spite of extreme circumstances. He received the following medals and awards for his military service: Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal with ‘V’, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal, Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry, Viet Nam Campaign Medal with 60 device.
Everett was born March 7, 1949, in Moss Point, MS. At age 19, he was notified to report for a physical for the military draft and joined the Marine Corps on May 20, 1968. He arrived for combat in Vietnam on February 6, 1969.
Everett’s four months tour of duty in Vietnam ended when he triggered a landmine resulting in catastrophic injuries to his legs. He was quickly medevaced by helicopter to a Naval hospital in Vietnam, which prevented his becoming a casualty. He also credits God’s hand in saving his life. When the explosion went off, Everett could hear the transmission for a chopper. As it turned out a chopper with the call sign “Lady Ace” intercepted the message and stated he was in the air with another wounded Marine and could take a couple more. This Lady Ace became Everett’s rescue angel. After triage in-country, he was sent to the 106th U. S. General Army Hospital in Yokohama, Japan for three weeks, where more of his right leg was amputated followed by treatment at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, for four months. Everett was then sent to the VA Hospital in Montgomery, AL., where he met his future wife, Alice, who was employed there. After one year of treatment in military/VA hospitals, he was discharged on May 30, 1970. Everett was medically retired from military service and in 1974 given permanent medical disability retirement from the Marine Corps.
Since then, Everett states, “I have lived my life to the fullest the best that I could. Vietnam stole my youth. I never had a chance to grow up.” He married in 1970, and using the Chapter 31, Vocational Rehab benefits from the VA, he attended Alabama Christian College (Faulkner University) for two years, where he received an Associate Degree. He then transferred to Huntingdon College and graduated with a B.A. in Secondary Education in May of 1975. Instead of teaching, Everett was offered a job with the VA, where he worked at the VA Regional Office in Montgomery reaching the level of GS-13 helping veterans by reviewing decisions made about veterans. He processed education awards for G.I. Bill requests, reviewed disability ratings, and served as an adjudicator on legal documents. He retired on April 4, 2004, after 30 years of service.
Since retirement, Everett has enjoyed playing guitar, fishing, hunting, bush hogging, cutting trails and preparing roads on his farm in rural Montgomery County, AL, traveling with his wife to visit all 50 States he gave his legs for. He has also enjoyed spending time with his three daughters and eight grandchildren. He and his wife attend the Liberty Church of Christ in Hope Hull, AL. Everett serves as the Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 2205. Everett is also a Lifetime member of the DAV and a member of the America Legion. He is active in Veteran non-profit support organizations such as AHEROusa, Soldiers Freedom Outdoors, The Independence Fund, Independence Corps, and Purple Heart Cruise, encouraging and being encouraged by fellow veterans.
Although Everett suffered traumatic injuries at age 19, he retains his loyalty to the U. S. Marine Corps saying, “It gave me the ability to overcome saying, ‘I can’t.’ It gave me the drive to be the kind man that I should be. I believe in courage, commitment and honor. I’ve tried to live my life by that including God, family and the Corps. My wife of 50 years deserves the title of Marine as much as I do because of what she has gone through with me. I have always had a wife who listens.”