By: Chad Fred Bailey
As we all know for the past 6 months, Judge John Kiener has focused on a diary written by Tom Cole, a World War II hero. Tom Cole would like to express his gratitude to Kiener for taking his perspective of actual events in his diary and taking it a step further, through research, to create the most actual perspective on actual events one ship’s company daily activities during WWII. Cole’s company would like to, also, express their gratitude and thank you’s to Judge Kiener for expressing their military serve and love for country. Tom Cole’s diary is full of interesting days, experiences and lots of historical accuracy which Judge Kiener place in historical context for weekly readers of the “Digging for Your Roots” and for this Cole feels honor to bring his work, through the diary, to so many generations of people.
Tom Cole’s diary never would have existed if it was not for the events that happened on December 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor was the reasoning behind Cole to quit school as an 11th grader at ScienceHillHigh School in Johnson City, Tennessee. On that faithful morning, Cole was listening to the news on his neighbor’s radio while riding his bicycle up and down in front of his house when he heard that the Japans had hit Pearl Harbor. He thought he was old enough to go. So he quiet school and went to the recruiting office. It took him two or three months to get in. So he and his cousin wanted to go to the Navy so he went to the Navy, but Cole couldn’t swim. Cole’s cousin could swim and talked him into joining the Navy and so they went on to Chattanooga and got examined and passed their test. After passing, Cole and his cousin came home for about a week before leaving for San Diego for basic training. If not, for these few facts, Cole’s diary would have never been written and John Kiener would have never been able to publish the transcriptions of day to day actions upon the USS Melvin (DD 680) and describe so vividly the events of WWII through a young man’s eyes from Washington County, Tennessee.