WEST MILTON — The student body at Milton-Union High School gathered in their gymnasium on Friday to witness a ceremony honoring a hero — a young man who, in 1982, was just as they are now.
Marc L. Cole was a graduate of Milton-Union High School, a student, a Bulldog football player. Cole was also a patriot.
He joined the United States Marine Corps shortly after graduation, fulfilling a desire to serve his country.
PFC Cole found himself attached to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, part of a peacekeeping force sent to Beirut, Lebanon, during the Lebanese civil war.
On Oct. 23, 1983, two suicide bombers drove trucks filled with explosives into the barracks where Cole and his fellow Marines were sleeping. The bombers detonated their explosives, killing Cole and 240 other U.S. Marines. The event was considered by many as the first large-scale act of terror against the United States.
On Friday, a ceremony honoring Lance Corporal Marc L. Cole was held at Milton-Union. State Sen. Steve Huffman spoke passionately at the ceremony honoring Cole. They were friends and teammates on the Bulldogs football team. Huffman, who grew up a short distance from Cole, related remembering exactly where he was when he heard the news of the bombing and, later, when his mother called to tell him about Cole.
“Marc was a friend, we played football together,” said Huffman. “He lived a life of service to this country and courageously died a hero. To name this road after him is a small thing that we could do for him.”
Childhood friend Steve Smiley said, “Marc Cole was a typical young man growing up in the Midwest. He loved his mom and dad, his sister, and pets. He loved sports and played football at Milton-Union High School. Marc graduated from Milton-Union in 1982. He also had a tremendous patriotic love for his country and wanted to serve in the armed forces and therefore, almost immediately after graduation, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
Smiley recalls Cole telling him how far ahead of other recruits he was due to the familiarity with tough conditioning of football two-a-day practices. “Marc played on two SWBL championship teams in his three years of varsity football,” said Smiley. “Marc was just 19 years old when he died for his country. He didn’t have a chance to leave a legacy, like getting married, having a family, or coaching Little League.”
“But Lance Corporal Cole’s legacy is a legacy of service and a legacy of teamwork,” said Smiley. “That he, and others, fearlessly went unarmed into a war-torn place to attempt to resolve peace, should be recognized.”
Following the ceremony, Smiley drove to the highway signs honoring his friend and quietly removed the covers from the signs, confident that his fellow Bulldog will be remembered by everyone who travels the newly named LCpl Marc L. Cole Memorial Highway.