Retired Sep. 1, 1994.
Brigadier General George P. Cole Jr. is commander of the 2nd Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
General Cole was born in 1944 in Boca Raton, Fla., and graduated from Riverside (Calif.) Polytechnic High School in 1962. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1967 and a master's degree in military history from the University Of Alabama in 1985. The general was a distinguished graduate of Squadron Officer School in 1972. He also completed Air Command and Staff College in 1974, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1977 and Air War College in 1985.
He entered pilot training and earned his wings in 1968 at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz. The general then was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron, South Vietnam, and flew AC-47 gunship missions from Phu Cat and Da Nang Air bases as well as from Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.
In March 1970 he was assigned to the 24th Special Operations Squadron, Howard Air Force Base, Panama, as a C-123K pilot flying numerous relief missions throughout South and Central America. A year later, General Cole was assigned as a plans and policy officer, Headquarters U.S. Air Force Southern Command, Albrook Air Force Station, Panama Canal Zone. During this assignment, he was the focal point for the command in air matters related to treaty negotiations between the United States and Panama.
General Cole was selected in December 1973 for a one-year tour at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as part of the Air Staff training program. Originally assigned to the Western Hemisphere Branch in the Plans Directorate, he was selected to serve as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff, plans and operations, Air Force headquarters, from June 1974 until January 1975.
After completion of B-52 combat crew training at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., General Cole was assigned to the 596th Bombardment Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, as an aircraft commander. He then became operations officer for the 62nd Bombardment Squadron in January 1978.
In July 1978 General Cole was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as director of the E-4B initial operational test and evaluation and chief, E-4 Operations Branch. In March 1980 he assumed command of the 20th Bombardment Squadron, Carswell Air Force Base, Texas.
A year later he was assigned to the Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as deputy chief of the Rated Officer Career Management Branch. In 1982 he was assigned as assistant deputy commander for operations, 379th Bombardment Wing, Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich. He subsequently became deputy commander for operations in 1983.
After graduating from Air War College in May 1985, General Cole was assigned as chief, Senate Liaison Office, Office of Legislative Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. He was assigned as vice commander, 7th Bombardment Wing, Carswell Air Force Base, in January 1987, and became commander in February 1987. In August 1988 the secretary of defense selected General Cole to serve as executive secretary of the Department of Defense. He served in the position until September 1990, when he became special assistant to the deputy chief of staff, personnel, Air Force headquarters. He assumed his current command in April 1992.
The general is a command pilot with more than 3,800 flying hours. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" device and two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with four service stars.
He was promoted to brigadier general July 1, 1990, with same date of rank.