WWII Survivor Reveals Memories in Autobiography

Sunday, July 4th 2010, 10:23 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Fourth of July brings back some poignant and painful memories for Green Country veterans. One has put his memories of Pearl Harbor into a recently-published autobiography.

Arles Cole was a 17-year-old seaman when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Nearly 70 years later, that date that will 'live in infamy' is still a vivid memory for the now 86-year-old.

Cole received a richly-deserved round of applause when he stepped to the mound at Drillers Stadium. He says he was never one to seek the limelight, but each Fourth of July means fewer and fewer Pearl Harbor survivors, so he feels it's his duty to tell his story.

"They're beginning to want we veterans to come out and tell our stories and be a part of their events and celebrations," said World War II Veteran Arles Cole. "Tonight is going to be a big celebration."

Cole has been celebrating the recent publication of his autobiography, "Showing Our Colors at Pearl Harbor." It's a firsthand account through the eyes of a 17-year-old.

Cole was in the bowels of the USS West Virginia when the Japanese attacked. He escaped by crawling through a hole created by a torpedo that didn't explode. He was diagnosed later in life with post-traumatic stress disorder, and even seven decades later, December 7 is tough to talk about.

"Telling a story like this is where a great deal of my trauma was. A great deal of my fear is showing up now because memories are coming back," Cole said.

But Cole says he'll no longer suppress those memories. And if anyone wants him to tell his story, or throw out a first pitch, he's more than happy to oblige.

"That's how it will come out of you, is what we call post traumatic stress disorder. But it don't hurt me because I don't mind crying. I'm a big boy, I'll cry now and then, and go on and tell my story," Cole said.

Cole went on to serve throughout the duration of World War II.