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106-year-old U.S. Army veteran to receive re-issued special membership award

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Posted at 11:50 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 11:55:23-05

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A 106-year-old U.S. Army veteran at the VA Batavia campus will receive a re-issued special membership award Friday.

Officials say Captain Sydney Cole became a member of a club you can only join by accident on January 2, 1945.

Cole was forced to jump out of his Piper Cub airplane over the skies of Belgium and into German-held territory at the Battle of the Bulge when his plane was shot down. He deployed his parachute at an altitude of 1000 feet and survived the emergency jump.

According to officials, this made Cole automatically eligible to join the Caterpillar Club. To be eligible all you need to do is successfully bail out of a damaged airplane and survive by using a parachute.

"It has been described as the club that no one wants to join, but it’s distinguished members include aviation pioneers Charles Lindbergh, astronaut John Glenn and former president, George H.W. Bush," a release states.

When the requirements are verified officials say the members receive a caterpillar pin which symbolizes the source of silk used to make the first parachute canopies.

"Captain Sydney Cole, we are pleased to be able to re-issue the prestigious caterpillar pin to you, as well as the ORIGINAL application for membership that you signed in December of 1945," a release states.

Captain Cole celebrated his 106th birthday in early September, he has also received a Purple Heart medal, Prisoner of War medal, and a WWII Victory medal.