Bridge Dedicated in Honor of Wayne County WWII Veteran


   On Saturday Morning, September 12th, 2020 beginning at 10 a.m., members of the Collinwood American Legion Post 254 Honors Team performed the first of two Bridge Dedication Ceremonies on Kilburn Branch Road. The first was in honor of Army Private First Class Joel Cole, a Veteran of World War II, who performed Occupation duty in Italy. Many family members, friends, and local and State Dignitaries were present for the two dedications: Officials present were State Representative David Byrd, Wayne County Mayor Jim Mangubat, Wayne County Road Commissioner Chuck Moser, and the 71st District Director Steve Allbrooks, representing U.S. Congressman Mark Green.  

  The first bridge, which is located on Kilburn Branch Road a few miles east of Collinwood in the Shawnettee community, was approved by the Wayne County Legislative body on January 20th, 2020. State Representative David Byrd was present and presented a Proclamation concerning the life of Mr. Cole, an outstanding citizen of Wayne County. Next, a plaque was presented to the family that was handmade by American Legion Post 130 member Ron Tripp.  After the presentation, Wayne County Mayor Jim Mangubat, who is a long-time friend of the family, read the following biography concerning Mr. Cole:

   Joel Cole, twin son of James Henry and Cora Elizabeth (Lizzie) Griggs Cole, was born on November 27th, 1927 in Waynesboro, Tennessee. Joel’s siblings were his twin brother, Noel Cole, Floyd Cole, Roy Franklin Cole, Ollie Cole Haddock, Alene Cole Jones, Christine Cole Prater, and Ruby Nell Cole Purdy.

   Joel completed the 8th grade at a country school on Factory Creek in Wayne County, Tennessee. He later married the love of his life, Ms. Ila Mae Kerr on December 31st, 1943 and they have four daughters, Glenda Cole Davis (Milas, Jr.), Jo Nell Cole Baugus (Jerry), Kathy Cole Barnett (Vic), and Janice Cole Wood (Brian). Grandchildren are Joel Davis (Renee), Jeffrey Davis (Becky), Jason Davis (Sissy), Josh Davis (Erica), Jeremy Baugus (Gwen), Jerrod Baugus (Ginger), Maegan Barnett Edwards (Elijah, deceased), Joel Barnett (Destin), Brianne Roberts (Ryne), and Justin Wood. Twenty great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren.

   Joel enlisted in the Army on July 8th, 1946 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After completing Field Artillery Basic Training and Truck Driver Training he was assigned to Battery B, 337th Field Artillery Battalion, 88th Infantry Division and shipped overseas to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He arrived on November 18th, 1946 and served on occupation duty in Italy guarding the Morgan Line from positions in Italy and Trieste, a territory between Italy and Yugoslavia. He drove military vehicles of varying sizes and capacities including 2 ½ ton cargo trucks in which he transported equipment and personnel.

   PFC Cole returned to the United States on February 27th, 1947 and was honorably discharged from the Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey on March 8th, 1947. He was awarded the Army Occupation Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

   Joel returned to Peach Orchard, Missouri to resume his position as Farm Manager for a 160 acre Grain and Livestock Farm. In 1950 he moved his family to Topeka, Kansas where he worked at a Grain Elevator Company. Then around 1957, Joel moved his family back to his hometown, Waynesboro, Tennessee. 

   He went to work for Mr. Grady McGee at Waynesboro Grain and Feed. Joel later purchased the business from Mr. McGee and operated it until it was destroyed by fire. He built the business back but later sold it and went to work driving a truck for Hassell & Hughes Lumber Company.

   Joel died on July 13th, 1983 at the age of 55. He is laid to rest in the Shawnettee Cemetery just a short distance from the bridge that is dedicated to his memory.

   Joel served his country with honor and went on to raise a wonderful family who have made many positive contributions of our community. We are very thankful and proud of Joel and his Family for the selfless Service and Sacrifice they made, both at home and overseas.

Submitted by: Randy Chambers

Photos courtesy of Peggy Chambers