Sam Cole Jr.
Jerry Lomax remembers Sam Cole in the following tribute.
Sam was really well liked by everybody. He was the kind of
Marine everybody could depend on when that time came. He was with the M-60 machine gun
crew of Mike Company. The picture was made about 1 week before he was killed in the
mountains at Hai Van Pass just to his right background.
On May 7, 1968, Mike Company, 3/5, 1st Marine Division, left on a reconnaisance mission in
the mountains above Lanco Bridge at Hai Van Pass. We were told that we weren't expecting
any trouble, so just relax. Mike Company had a pretty rough climb because the mountain was
steep. In spite of the struggle, it was one of the prettiest places I had ever seen. The
company spent the night next to a mountain stream that looked more like the Rockies or
Smokies. It was so much unlike the scenery of Vietnam, that the mind easily wandered away
to home. It was enjoyable.
On May 8, the "relaxation" ended with AK-47s and machine guns being fired at us.
Mike Company was ambushed coming up a marked trail in the center of our column. I did not
see Sam all day on the 8th. On May 9, in the morning after 11:00 a. m., Sam came up to my
thick tree where I was taking cover after being shot in the arm. Sam was okay even though
he had been knicked by a bullet. He came up to see how I was doing. I told him that I was
fine even though I lost a lot of blood. He said that he was feeling a little dizzy so he
just laid down on a moderate slope close to the tree. I remember that I told him to lay
where I was because of the protection from the tree and the incoming fire was more than
sporadic. He said he was okay and he lay on his back about 10 yards from where I was. He
said the slope would give him protection because of the angle he was, besides the fire was
from behind, not in front. I called out to him every so often, he never answered, and I
thought he was just asleep because we had all had very little sleep. So many guys were
being brought in from being wounded or killed from the mess around us, my mind switched to
helping take care of these guys. We had already had many casualties from earlier that day.
Later, I remember someone came up to me and said Cole was dead. I was shocked, because he
was still just 10 yards from me. Sam had caught a bullet square between the eyes. There
was practically no blood, with a neat, little hole. This proved that Mike Company was
basically surrounded in a horseshoe type area. He still had his arms behind his head as if
he was still asleep. He must have been shot not long after he lay down. Today, I wish that
I had checked on him sooner, or at least made him get behind that tree. My mind was just
concentrating on helping those who were brought to the area.
Sam will be remembered always, because he was one of us. God
rest his soul.