Rear Adm. Christopher Cole, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, graduated in 1971 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in political science and was commissioned through the Navy ROTC Program. He reported to Navy flight training in July, 1971 and was designated a naval aviator in October 1972.
At sea, he served as a pilot and division officer with Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 15 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68); Personnel Exchange Program pilot with Canadian Forces HS-423, serving as detachment commander aboard HMCS Athabaskan (DDH 282); operations officer of HS-5 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); and executive officer and commanding officer of HS-4 aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), deploying in support of Operation Earnest Will (Arabian Gulf). He next served as navigator aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm (Iraq). Selected for ship command, he commanded USS El Paso (LKA 117) and deployed to the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea for Operation Restore Hope (Somalia). He then reported to USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) as executive officer and subsequently as commanding officer, deploying to the Mediterranean for NATO Operation Deny Flight (Bosnia).
His shore tours include flight instructor pilot duty with HS-1; studies and graduation from the Naval War College; staff duties with the deputy chief of naval operations (air warfare); command of HS-1; and as a fellow with the Secretary of Defense Strategic Studies Group.
Flag assignments include service as commander U.S. Naval Forces Korea and naval component commander, United Nations Command in Seoul, Republic of Korea; commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic; and director of Ashore Readiness on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operation (OPNAV N-46).
Cole’s personal awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four awards), Meritorious Service Medal (four awards) and Navy Commendation Medal.