Retired Sep. 1, 1975.
Major General Ray M. Cole is assistant deputy chief of staff, personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
General Cole was born in 1923 in Trumann, Ark., where he graduated from high school in 1940. He attended Arkansas State College until 1942. He entered the aviation cadet program in July 1942 and received his pilot wings and commission as second lieutenant in March 1943.
He completed advanced flying training at Lubbock Army Air Field, Texas, and was then assigned as a B-24 aircraft flight instructor at Fort Worth Army Air Field, Texas, until November 1944. During World War II, he flew the "Hump" in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations totaling over 800 hours in 72 combat missions in B-24, C-109 and C-54 aircraft.
General Cole returned to the United States in January 1946 and served as a foreign transport pilot with the Air Transport Command at Wilmington, Del.; Westover Field, Mass.; and Washington, D.C. In August 1947 he became a student at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he received a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering. In August 1950 he received a master of science degree in business administration from Northwestern University.
In October 1950 General Cole was assigned to Headquarters Twentieth Air Force, Far East Air Forces, Okinawa, where he became chief, Personnel Actions Division. In June 1952 he was named commander of the 30th Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, Okinawa. In addition to his duties as squadron commander during the Korean War, he served as a B-29 aircraft commander and completed 25 combat missions over North Korea.
He returned to the United States, in January 1953, and entered the Air Command and Staff School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He was subsequently assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as a planning and programming officer, Directorate of Personnel Planning. From December 1954 to July 1957, he served as assistant executive officer, Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel.
In August 1957 he became deputy commander, and later commander of the 1604th Air Base Wing, Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda. After the Strategic Air Command began its intercontinental ballistic missile program, General Cole was appointed as assistant for ICBM program development, to the commander of the 819th Air Division at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. In July 1961 he became commander of the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron, the Atlas F unit at Dyess. He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., from August 1963 to July 1964.
General Cole was assigned to the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in July 1964 as the senior Air Force member of the General Operations Division and later as assistant deputy director for operations, J-3. He returned to the Air Staff, in July 1967, as executive officer and assistant to the deputy chief of staff, personnel. He attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1969. In May 1969 he was appointed vice commander, Twenty-second Air Force, Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
He was assigned to Headquarters Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., in March 1971 as deputy chief of staff, plans, and became chief of staff for MAC in July 1972. In February 1973, he was named commander, Twenty-first Air Force (MAC), at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.
General Cole assumed his duties as assistant deputy chief of staff, personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in October 1973.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem. He is a command pilot with more than 7,000 hours flying time.
He was promoted to the grade of major general effective Aug. 1, 1971, with date of rank July 1, 1967.