Sarasota veteran receives Congressional Gold Medal

- After almost 8 decades, a Sarasota man is being recognized for his bravery and service in World War II. 

Keith Cole served in the Army during the war. He was attached to the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. His group, the Carpetbaggers, ran covert operations, dropping spies, saboteurs, and supplies behind enemy lines. 

If not for his missions, many more Americans and their allies might have paid the ultimate price for their countries. 

The part of his journey started three years ago. Cole received a phone call from the government of France notifying him that he would receive the Legion of Honor, the highest military award the country offers. 

This week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan brought Cole’s journey full circle in Washington D.C.

“The United States mint has struck a gold medal, which we present now on behalf of a very grateful nations,” said Ryan at an award ceremony. 

Cole received the Congressional Medal from the United States, an honor he never imagined. 

“It was 77 years ago that we did all this work, and then all of sudden we're recognized for what we did, and it was very inspiring, and it was rather emotional for me, so I don't know too many guys that have been lucky enough to receive, as an award, these two medals."

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