Gold Star Family Continues Call To Marine Corps Service
Laura and Adriana Cole were born into a family that lives, breaths, and sleeps Marine Corps, as young adults, they decided to step into that enormous legacy for themselves after a family tragedy left its mark on them.
The family’s Marine Corps story first begins with their mother, Gina Pompeyo. Gina was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. She moved to the United States when she was four years old, and her family settled in New York City.
“I grew up in New York, which is already a crazy place to live,” said Pompeyo. “One of my old friends came back from Marine Corps bootcamp and it got me interested; I later met with a recruiter and I was sold.”
After going through the Military Entrance Processing Station, Gina shipped to Parris Island for Recruit Training on March 23, 1998.
“I knew since I joined that this was going to be my life, it instilled something in me,” said Pompeyo. “I just wanted to keep going; I was so thirsty for more.”
While stationed in Okinawa, Japan with 7th Communication Battalion, Pompeyo met Timothy Cole. She remembers him as a jokester who commanded attention with his energetic personality.
“Timothy was the type of individual that always lit up any room he entered,” Pompeyo said.
An Oakdale, La. native, Timothy joined the Marines after he graduated high school. The two had twin daughters together, Laura and Adriana Cole.
“When it came to being a father, he loved and enjoyed earning that title, he called himself a daddy jungle gym,” said Pompeyo. “He was so proud of his baby girls; he always talked to everyone about them and bragged that he had twins. He always kept a picture of them in his breast pocket of his utilities.”
Laura said that her father was quick-witted and was always cracking jokes.
“Growing up my dad was a big goofball,” said Laura. “He would play-fight with us or when we said we were hungry, he would say, ‘do you want a knuckle sandwich.’ It was just little things he did, he has a really big character.”
When Laura and Adriana were seven, they received news that would change their life forever. On June 6, 2007 they witnessed a sight no military family hopes to see; two solemn soldiers in dress uniform standing outside their door. That was the moment they found out their Father had been killed in action while deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“When Timothy was killed in action it was one of the hardest moments of my life, not only as a mother but as a Marine as well,” said Pompeyo. “I tell our daughters all the time that they will have an angel who will forever see them.”
Pompeyo said she raised her two daughters as a single parent and was their mother, mentor, and leader.
“My goal in life is to be just like my mom - an amazing, hard, strong, beautiful Marine,” said Laura. “I want to thank her for being the best role model; I hope to be an amazing Marine just like her.”
After 21 years of service, Gina retired on March 31, 2019. Shortly after graduating high school, Adriana enlisted in the Marine Corps and Laura soon followed her.
“I’m doing everything in my power to make my dad proud,” said Laura “He loved the Marines, he loved everything about it. I’m doing all this for him, he’s my hero.”
Both Adriana and Laura became Marines, successfully continuing the legacy of their parents. Pompeyo said she could not be prouder of her daughters. Adriana graduated recruit training June 26, 2020 and is now at Camp Pendleton, California; Laura graduated September 11, 2020 and is now at Marine Combat Training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina.
“Having to raise my twin daughters without their dad has been challenging and an emotional roller coaster, especially during important milestones,” said Pompeyo. “Every year on April 26, we get a helium balloon and tie a letter on the end of the balloon and release it up to the sky so he can read it in heaven.”