Jim Cole got to see a part of the world that few people see – courtesy of the U.S. Army.
Cole, who grew up in Levelland, received his draft notice in late summer 1961. His entry into the Army was delayed, though, by an accident.
He was working for Texaco and loading diesel fuel into a transport truck when an explosion occurred.
Cole suffered second- and third-degree burns on his arms and hands in the accident in Tulsa, Okla.
He spent one night in the hospital and doctors treated his injuries by putting his arms in ice water.
‘That got the heat out of it,’ he said.
The Army delayed drafting him until September 1962, when he began basic training at Fort Polk, La.
He said the eight weeks of training was ìnot bad,î adding that he was a poor shot on the rifle range.
After completing basic training, he and 12 other men waited for orders. They waited two months and nothing happened.
One of the 13 soldiers was from Arkansas and his father had died. The man’s family contacted the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbrightís office seeking a hardship discharge.
Days later, Fulbrightís office contacted Army brass and told them to discharge the soldier.