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More than 350 people were in attendance at a memorial service for one of the nation’s ‘greatest World War II advocates’ on Saturday. 

The service for WWII veteran, trucker, and museum founder Galen Cole was held on Saturday, January 25th at the Anah Shrine Temple in Bangor, Maine. 

While in the Army, Cole narrowly avoided death during an artillery attack in Germany during WWII. Upon returning home, he helped to run his family’s trucking company “Cole Express,” served on the Bangor City Council, and even opened up a museum dedicated to trucking and other modes of transportation, all while erecting memorials dedicated to veterans from multiple wars, and running programs dedicated to sharing their stories. 

The speakers at the service reflected on Cole’s many good deeds, including his veterans charitable foundations, youth programs, and even his smaller, simpler deeds such as paying the toll for out-of-state drivers traveling behind him on the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge back in the day, reported Bangor Daily News.  

“There is no one in Maine who was a greater advocate for our World War II veterans than Galen Cole,” said US Senator Susan Collins in a statement. 

In addition to Cole’s family and friends, many veterans who volunteered at his museum were in attendance to show support. 

“I’ve only met Galen Cole one time, but from what I know he was generous to a fault,” said 66-year-old veteran Skip Young, who now offers tours of the museum. “I’ve never met anyone like him. That guy was involved with everything.”

“Volunteering at the museum has been helpful in combating the loneliness that’s a big part of my life following the recent death of my wife,” he continued.

79-year-old Air Force veteran Joe Wright was also in attendance at the memorial. He says that he finds great value in volunteering at Cole’s museum and sharing his story with children who visit. 

“He’d [Cole] always say, ‘Freedom isn’t free,’” Wright said. “I don’t consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool patriot, but his dedication to the country and to liberty came through beautifully with his programs.”

Galen Cole was 94-years-old and had been battling with Parkinson’s. 

For more information on Cole and his endeavors, please click here – or visit the museum website here.

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