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WWII veteran from Buffalo celebrates 106th birthday

Posted at 9:18 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 01:25:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A World War II veteran who has received a Purple Heart medal, Prisoner of War medal, and a WWII Victory medal, is celebrating his 106th birthday.

Captain Sydney Cole was born on September first, 1914 in downtown Manhattan. His father moved his family to Buffalo. Cole attended Buffalo Public School #32 from 1922-1930, and Fosdick-Masten Park High School, now City Honors, where he was captain of the swim team.

Sydney Cole with his high school swim team

Cole wanted to become a pilot, so he trained in Toronto with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He then enlisted with the US Army as a pilot from 1941-1945.

In the early morning hours of January 2nd, 1945, Cpt. Cole's plane was shot down.

"I could see the bullet holes going through the parachute and my whole left arm, my whole leg, and all the way down," said Cpt. Cole in a documentary presented on his 106th birthday by the VA WNY Healthcare System, produced and directed by Julian Wilson.

Captain Sydney Cole

Cpt. Cole was then captured and sent to a Hitler Youth camp.

"I stayed there for at least a month and a half, where the kids would beat me. No food, nothing," said Cpt. Cole.

When the camp was eventually liberated, Cpt. Cole says he weighed 80 lbs. He returned to Buffalo after he was discharged, where he opened his own agency selling vehicles and met his bride, Sybil.

Mr. and Mrs. Sydney and Sybil Cole