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Local WWII hero turns 107

One of the oldest WWII veterans in the US
Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 18:27:28-04

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — One of the country’s oldest World War II veterans, Sydney Cole, is celebrating his 107th birthday. Sydney Cole, also known as “Captain Cole,” was a pilot and captain for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

His son, Richard, said his war stories are part of the nation's history.

“I tell this story every time I go out to dinner,” his son said. “I never get tired of telling his story.”

In 1945, his military plane was shot down. He risked his life jumping from the damaged plane to save his co-pilot.

“The other pilot landed on the American side,” his son said. “He landed on the enemy’s side and that’s how he became a POW saving that man’s life.”

He was in one of Hitler's camps for a year.

"He didn't know if they were coming in to feed him or beat him,” his son explained. “My dad went into POW camp at 150 pounds and came out at 80 pounds."

Everyone at the party described Captain Cole as a “national treasure.” They said you could sit with him for days and never hear the same story twice.

“He actually qualified for the Berlin Olympics! He was a swimmer,” his son said.

Captain Cole said his secret to longevity is to live by the motto “health is wealth.” He said won’t even eat a cupcake today, but he would have a sweet if it’s apple pie.

“He keeps telling the nurses here ‘get me out of this wheelchair! I want to walk,” his son said. “He says ‘the body is made to move!’”

“I feel good! I feel good all the time,” Sydney said.