Black, Cole

Deceased 11/09/2007

Name: Cole Black
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Date of Birth: 23 November 32
Home City of Record: Lake City MN
Date of Loss: 21 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213400N 1063900E (XJ708855)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8E

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)


b088.jpg (15498 bytes)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.


SYNOPSIS: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot
reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for
photo reconnaissance.

The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.

Commander Cole Black was the pilot of an F8E sent on a combat mission over
North Vietnam on June 21, 1966. His flight route took him northeast of
Hanoi, where he was shot down near the border of Lang Son and Ha Bac
Provinces about 15 miles southwest of the city of Lang Son.

For the next 7 years, Black was held in various prisoner of war camps,
including the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" complex in Hanoi. He was released in
the general prisoner release in 1973.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: June 21, 1966
Released: February 12, 1973

I am Cmdr. Cole Black  and I was born and grew up on a farm back in
Minnesota. I attended a little school out in the country for the first eight
years of my formal education. I then went to high school at Lake City,
Minnesota. I enjoyed high school very much and became interested in sports.
I liked football and wrestling best. At age 17 I enlisted  in the U.S. Navy
and spent five years working as an electronics technician.

After completing the officers candidate school at Newport Rhode Island I was
given a commission. I attended  flight training and won my wings of gold in
February 1957. I then became a reccee (reconnaissance) pilot and spent  four
years with Light Photographic Squadron 62 based at Cecil Field Florida.
After leaving that squadron in 1961 I attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate
School at Monterey California where  I received my B.S. degree in 1964. The
war in Vietnam was getting started and after leaving Monterey I was assigned
to Fighter- Squadron 211 based at Miramar California. I had completed one
combat cruise in Southeast Asia and had only seven days left on my second
cruise when I was shot down.

I was shot down on 21 June 1966 while flying an F8E of Fighter Squadron 211
based aboard the attack carrier Hancock. I was shot down north of Hanoi near
Kep airfield. I ejected from my disabled  fighter at a very low altitude and
was captured by some Vietnamese peasants very shortly after I hit the  ground.
The peasants did not treat me too badly. However, I was soon in the hands of
the VPA. On the  way to Hanoi I was put on display for the local people. Some
of them were very hostile, others just  curious. When I arrived at Hanoi I was
treated like an animal. The communists call it "reducing you to a  dog."
Perhaps that is a good analogy because when they get done with you, you are
unable to use your  hands and have to do things, such as eating, like a dog.

Soon after I arrived in Hanoi, on July 6, 1966, the communists saw fit to
display American POWs in Hanoi. We were hauled down town and forced to walk
through the streets of Hanoi while the local population humiliated, beat and
tried to intimidate us. It was probably the most real demonstration of mob
action I have or ever will see. I believe that even with the vice-like grip
the communists have on their people, the people nearly got out of hand that
night. In my opinion they were so keyed up they would have liked to have
killed us all.

During my tour in prison, I can say that I have come to know some of the
greatest guys in the world. We have known humiliation together; we have known
compassion together; we have suffered together and now that we are home we
once again, know the joy of being free and being in our great country. For me
the thoughts of returning to America and to loved ones inspired me throughout
my captivity. Even when you seem to be losing all else no one can take away
the precious memories you may have of the loved ones you left behind, the joys
you knew as a boy, the beauty of the country you will one day return to, and
all the kind things your father and mother have done for you.

I am very happy to be back and I feel very lucky to be here. I hope to stay in
the Air Force and serve my country once again.

Cole Black retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He and his wife
Karen live in California.

In late 2002, Karen authored CODE OF CONDUCT, a novel, based on her own
and her husbands experiences as a Vietnam, former Prisoner of War.
It is available at


California Plane Crash Kills Former POW
 LOS ANGELES, Nov. 10, 2007
 (AP) A small plane crashed in California's Central Valley on Friday,  killing a former
Vietnam prisoner of war and two others. .....
Dogs and Friends,

     Yesterday was a football day for the rest of America, but for a few of us here in San
Diego it was Cole Black's day...his send-off west.
     As I pulled into the parking lot the only space available was next to a guy getting out of his car...
Rich Reddich, who was an F-8 pilot in Cole's era, and who's daughter is an instructor WSO in the
F-18 RAG.   Right across the parking lot, getting out of their car were Jack and Kathy Ensch.   We
walked up to the long line outside the chapel together.
     The line of people waiting to sign the guest book looked like a line-up of "who's who in Naval
Aviation". There were a lot of people from "our day", pilots of all kinds of fighters and Phantom/Tomcat
RIOs.   Our good pal Guy Freeborn and Jenny were there.  Karen was outside greeting the people in
the line as they waited to sign the book.   She told me to go on down front, that there was a reserved
section for Cole's XPOW friends.   I did, and there were about 20 of the FOGS there.   Jack and I
were the only FNGs.   Three large wreaths were placed to the far left, on stands.   Two were from
Karen and from the family members, and the other one read "GBU, 4th Allied POW Wing".   On a
stand just off-center was a very large color picture of Cole in his service-dress whites, cap, looking
directly at the camera, with that little smile.   An organist was playing a beautiful medley of inspirational
     The chaplain was a Navy Captain.   Promptly at 1300 he asked us to stand.   A military detail of nine
sailors rolled the casket up to the front of the chapel, then too their places in the right front three rows,
beside some of the FOGs.   The funeral directors turned the casket cross-wise to the congregation with
Cole's head to our left, and centered it.   It was draped in the American flag, and remained closed.
     A woman soloist sang "You are the wind beneath my wings".   Lots of tiny tears...
     Karen spoke first, and told us how she and Cole met, and how she immediately sensed the "gentle"
man she'd just met.   The next day she told a co-worker she'd just met the man she was going to marry.
     The chaplain introduced a line-up of speakers which included three long-time friends of Cole's,
(Bobby Hulse was one) including one childhood friend from his hometown in Minnesota, and two FOGS
(Karen had asked me if I wanted to say a few words but I felt unworthy to do so, so I didn't).   All the
speakers had very warm and tender thoughts of Cole to express to us.   All were very good, and all
stressed Cole's gentle nature and good heartedness.
     The soloist sang "Amazing Grace", a cappella.
     The chaplain then delivered a brief "soft-sermon", and asked up to "remain in the spirit" of the occasion
as we went outside.   We sang the Navy Hymn as the honor guard and pall bearers rolled the casket outside,
then we followed.
     Outside, chairs had been set up on the lawn and the casket was centered in front of them.   We all gathered
around in a large semi-circle. There was a 21 gun salute by a rifle squad, TAPS by a bugler, and a flag-folding
by two sailors.   One of the sailors took the flag to Karen and knelt to present it to her.   AT THE INSTANT
both of them had their hands on the flag, four F-18s came over and did the "Missing Man" tribute.   The timing
could NOT have been better.   At that point, at least two of the XPOWs "lost it"... I know, I saw them.   I was
standing next to one, and the other one was wearing my clothes...
     The chaplain invited the family to come forward and place long-stem roses on the casket and bid their final
farewells, and one-by-one, they did.  Karen and some others kissed the casket.
     The casket was then rolled out to the front of the chapel by the detail of sailors, and after it was loaded into
the hearse the funeral director invited us all to come to the O-Club.   I stopped to speak to the chaplain.   His
name is Johnny Poole, and he's from Mississippi.   I told him I was from Tennessee, and I loved listening to his
voice---... with that typical deep, resonant, melodious quality, perfect English, and a soft, southern
accent---...   He did an absolutely perfect job, conducting the entire service with total dignity and grace.
     On the way to the O-Club I stopped to get two roles of nickles.
     At the club two bars were set up in the main dining room, along with a superb buffet.   Another bar was
set-up outside.   There was a large screen set-up and a continuous slide-show of Cole's ventures played.   People
did what people do on occasions like that.   I handed out nickles to the guys I knew, and to the ones I didn't know
if they were wearing wings.   After about an hour an a half I wandered outside to talk to friends out there, and
shortly about twenty people came out to throw nickles.   Jack Ensch and a few others knew the words so we
sang "Throw a nickle on the grass" and the people threw the nickles.   The word got out, and a group of about
15 family members came out.   I gave them nickles, Jack and I sang again, and they threw nickles.   We had two
more songs and throws, then made an announcement for EVERYBODY who wanted to throw a nickle to come
out to the grass.   About 60 came out and Jack and I sang one last time.
     Within a few minutes it was all over, and the place was empty.   It was about 1630.   I gave Karen a hug and
reminded her that her POW family was right here for her, and asked if she got everything she wanted in preparation
for, and from, the service.   She was totally satisfied with all the assistance and support she had gotten from the CO
of MCAS Miramar.   In my mind, it couldn't have been better, or more nicely done, in any respect.

ODF...and our friends too,



More info



(My memory of an  ex-POW)


Dan McKegney
(Copyright 2001) reprinted with permission

   Among my reasons for writing this story is for Kristin,Sarah, and
 Elicia, my lovely and intelligent nieces. All are much smarter than I,
 though maybe each can gain something by reading this story. The something
 I hope that each can gain is my wish that they each may be moved to
 explore the nature of some important concepts such as loyalty, courage,
 honor, respect, human endurance, and love of country through their
 knowledge of the contributions and sacrifices of Captain Black, one of my
 heroes. My hope also is that perhaps they may come to understand
 something of war and, more importantly, to appreciate the importance of
 and price paid for peace and freedom. Who knows, maybe one day they will
 decide to seek those aviator "wings of gold". OK, girls.  enjoy and learn
 from the following:

   "Good morning, Captain Cole." Just seconds after the last word left the
 tip of my tongue, I knew that I’d screwed up. Screwed up big time. But it
 was too late to correct my mistake.

   His name was Cole Black. Captain Black, if you please: an O-6 Naval
 officer, equivalent in rank to a bird colonel in the Army, Marine Corps,
 or Air Force. He had been greeting attendees to the Monday morning
 Command staff meeting as each person approached the doorway. My
 nervousness in June 1979 about attending my first-ever such meeting at
 Naval Air Station, NAS, Miramar in San Diego had just fully betrayed me.
 "Good morning, Captain Cole", I had said. What a barely functioning idiot
 I was. Of that I was certain. Surely, I thought later, and for the good
 of humanity, I deserved to be issued my formal Idiot's License. I'd just
 passed the tepid requirements for such licensing.

   Despite my mistake, I recall that Captain Black had simply smiled,
 shook my hand, and acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had just
 happened. "Good morning, Dan" is how he replied, while obviously excusing
 my "civilian" gaff. Or at least I wanted desperately to believe that my
 first faux pas in protocol had been somehow overlooked. Less confident
 than ever before, I proceeded into the meeting room to take my seat
 towards the rear of a long, rectangular table for my first-ever Command
 level staff meeting at NAS Miramar. As the Executive Officer, XO, of NAS
  Miramar in 1979, Captain Black sat next to Miramar 's Commanding Officer,
 CO, during those Monday morning staff meetings.

   Both the CO and XO sat at the head of that long table, around which was
 seated Miramar 's Department Heads. I sat there too, as the Miramar
 civilian personnel Department Head. During those meetings Captain Black
 would interject his comments, opinions, and humorous remarks. Everyone
 would quietly listen as he spoke. There always seemed to be a kind of
 additional level of respect that would be accorded to Captain Black by
 that Monday morning assembly of Department Heads. One could just feel it.
 Additional respect was in the air. It was palpable. And, rightly so.


   Naval Air Station Miramar was a special place in 1979. Captain Black,
 the XO there, was a special man. By the time he was re-assigned to
 another Navy duty station in 1981, I had by then worked for him for about
 two years.

   In 1979 NAS Miramar was also known as " Fightertown , U.S.A. ", the home
 for training Navy and Marine Corps fighter pilots in the life and death
 aerial ballet of dogfighting in jet-powered machines far above the earth’s
 surface. "Fightertown U.S.A. " entered into the popular consciousness by
 the 1986 release of the movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise. Maverick, the
 young fighter pilot Cruise portrayed in the movie, was similar to the
 Captain Black I knew: both had a boundless energy, an enthusiasm for what
 they were doing, and a clarity of purpose. There the similarities ceased,
 however. In 1979 Captain Black was by then a desk-bound Navy fighter
 pilot, a Naval officer charged with administrative duties. Maverick was
 just a fictional character, a celluloid jet jockey. Captain Black had
 been the genuine article, the real deal, a bona fide sky warrior. He had
 possessed the "right stuff". He was also a man who'd spent nearly seven
 years as a prisoner of war, a POW, in North Vietnam .

   By 1979 I was a civilian in my early thirties working for the Navy. I
 was a "sandcrab" in charge of civilian personnel administration at
  Miramar , who was suddenly thrust into the company of Naval Air Station
 Department Heads. I had served a 4 year enlisted tour with the Air Force
 years before, getting out in 1971. I'd served my year in Vietnam ,
 1967-1968, at Tan Son Nhut Air Base( Saigon ). But Captain Black was shot
 down in 1966 while flying his F8E Crusader over North Vietnam before I
 ever got to the South. He spent nearly seven years in North Vietnam as a
 POW. In 1973 he was released from the Hanoi Hilton during Operation
 Homecoming. Now in 1979, Captain Black was my immediate supervisor, my
 boss. I knew of his past, or at least that part of his that most closely
 paralleled that of mine. We never spoke about it.

   Captain Black, or "XO", as I soon learned to call him, was a little
 shorter than my nearly six feet. Yet, he was thickly and strongly built
 and had a brisk and hearty handshake. An energetic man, his dark eyes
 would fixate on anyone with whom he came in contact as he greeted people
 with a broad, friendly smile. Even though he was in his late forties in
 1979, one could not help but notice his youthful appearance, an
 appearance which starkly contrasted with his nearly white hair.


   "Dan, XO here. Can you come down to my office as soon as possible? Yes
 sir, will be there shortly", I would reply as I started to hang up the
 phone and reach for my topcoat.

   I was always glad to get a phone call from the XO, even though I knew
 it meant that something was "up" in the civilian side of the
 house---something that I’d probably not heard about like a Congressional
 inquiry regarding one of our civilian employees or a letter from our
 civilian labor union that had been sent directly to the CO. I always
 expected the unexpected when asked by Captain Black to come to his

   Though assigned to desk duty, Captain Black was thoroughly a fighter
 pilot in the truest sense. On a small table across from his desk there
 stood a small, hand-held radio receiver. It was always on, monitoring the
 aircraft/tower transmissions at Miramar . His office seemed never to be
 without those crackling radio sounds between the Miramar tower and
 fighter aircraft. Whether taxiing on the runway, taking off, or in the
 process of landing, the tower/aircraft radio transmissions could clearly
 be heard in the background during our meetings in his office.
 Occasionally, his attention would be momentarily diverted if there were
 transmissions of particular import, as only he would know. On one
 occasion, and after hearing a particular radio exchange between aircraft
 and tower, he invited me outside the Miramar Headquarters building to
 view the runway action. There I proudly stood next to him, while my eyes
 followed the direction his arm showed as he pointed towards a fighter
 plane attempting a landing at Miramar . I listened to his description of
 the action, though without fully understanding. While his body was
 earthbound, Captain Black's spirit was surely with the pilot landing that
 plane. That plane touched down and stopped safely.

   October 1980. An open house and air show at NAS Miramar, San Diego and
 featuring the "Blue Angels". Though he was XO at Miramar at the time,
 Captain Black, thoroughly a fighter pilot, helped to honcho that show.
 E-2s, A-7s and 6s, F-4s, F-14s, F-5, F-8s and A-4s all took off at about
 1230 hours. There was a flying formation as the national anthem was
 played. The U.S. Navy Parachute Team did a demonstration for the
 assembled audience, members of the public. There were many other
 demonstrations of flight operations. The finale involved an aerial
 demonstration by the "Blue Angels"... Navy fighter jets swooping and
 swarming across and into the San Diego skies. And wowing the audience, to
 a person, all the while. I knew that Captain Black was pleased by the air


   Monday mornings at NAS Miramar. Those Command staff meetings began
 sharply at 0900. Now that I think back I'm certain that each of the
 attendees, and in his own way, must have listened to Captain Black with a
 certain sense of respect and envy. Yes, envy. Certainly not for the
 isolation, the torture and imprisonment that he had endured for so many
 years as a POW. Rather, it was an envy, a jealousy, regarding the depth
 of self-knowledge that he seemed to possess because of his POW
 experience. His was a kind of self knowledge that none of us sitting
 around that table had. For none of us, I believe, had been through a
 similar crucible of human experience. How would I, or any of us for that
 matter, have responded to the adversity that Captain Black had
 experienced? Would I have been as strong as he? Who would I have become?
 Would I have endured? What would I have become? Did I have the grit,
 theresolve, resilience to endure as had Captain Black.? I didn't know
 then, nor do I now know the answers to any of those questions. What I do
 know is this...if I could fit into my old Air Force uniform, Captain
 Black, I would salute you, sir. Was a pleasure working for you.

   There were never any noteworthy exchanges between Captain Black and I
 regarding Vietnam . That was something that was just not done then. That
 is how it should have been. But now is different and it is within today's
 times that I say to Captain Black:

                                              Welcome home, brother.


My daughter in law saw this video that Brad Paisley did on the USS
Midway earlier this month, and recognized Cole's plane.  I
watched it and his plane is at 2:59 of the video, but the video itself
is worth watching. 

Karen Black


I only knew Cole Black was a POW and that his was one among hundreds of POW and Missing In Action names engraved on the $2.50 bracelets that ...

Subject: KAREN BLACK'S NEW BOOK - TINMAN, a Thriller.
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2020 09:49:12 -0700
From: Karen Black <>


Dr. Greg McGregor, a geotechnical engineer from St. Paul, cannot possibly foresee how much his life will change nor how much it will be in danger, when he answers a call from his friend, Charley Farnsworth, chief engineer and major stock owner in TINMAN, an international heavy equipment construction company, asking Greg to meet him in L.A. immediately concerning a nine-digit secret he can’t discuss over the phone. Greg is thrust into an unexpected suspense-riddled adventure when he survives a bombing of his house and later watches helplessly from a block away in Denver as his friend is murdered before his eyes. Together with the feisty former professional skier, Corky Gonzales, Charley’s Aspen condo house sitter and friend, they embark on an exciting and dangerous quest to find who is behind the killings and to discover the identity of Charley’s nine-digit secret. Was Charley’s murder orchestrated by someone at TINMAN, or by the drug cartels using the huge heavy equipment returning from South American projects to transport drugs, or by the someone connected with the Environment Movement opposing the construction of the proposed billion-dollar Susitna hydroelectric dam? Or by someone else related to whatever multi-million dollar project Charley had discovered? And why are Greg and Corky targets of killers with far-reaching tentacles?

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have just published my second novel, or third if you want to consider the rewrite of Code of Conduct as my second.  Both are listed on Amazon in e-book or paperback.  I don’t have much control over the price of the paperback, Amazon sets a minimum, probably based on the number of pages, and I have priced them as low as I could.  TINMAN is $9.95 and Code of Conduct is $15.95,  However, I have more control over the price of the e-Books. They are regularly $4.99, but through the end of May, I am lowering the price on both of them to $2.99.  I actually don’t own a Kindle reader, but can pull it up on my computer or my I-Pad and read just like a book. I think they even offer a free Kindle reader.  The Kindle probably has some other features, but I’ve been downloading other books I want to read and it works just fine.

Below are links to TINMAN, the new thriller. The first is the e-Book;  the second one is the paperback version of TINMAN; (In the next week they should both be on the same page-it takes a while for Amazon to link them; third is the rewritten (and much better she said humbly) Code of Conduct, and the fourth is  my author page, which actually has both of the E-books attached.

If you’re looking for something to do during this “stay-at-home” time, consider reading my books.  And if you like them, please go on Amazon and Goodreads to write a review.


Karen Black