Command Master Chief Karim Cole, a native of Freetown, Sierra Leone, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1990. Following completion of basic training in San Diego, he reported to Naval Medical Training Center, San Diego, for Hospital Corpsman “A” School and then “C” School at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, Florida.
Cole later earned a Bachelor of Science from Austin Peay State University, a Master of Health Care from Webster University, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University. He is also a graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy (Class 119); Command Master Chief/Chief of the Boat Capstone Course (Class 50); U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (Class 58); the National Defense University Keystone Course; and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Navy Strategic Thinking Course. He is designated a Master Training Specialist and is a specialist in aviation, surface and Fleet Marine Force warfare.
Cole’s early assignments include tours with Marine Aircraft Group 13, where he completed three Western Pacific deployments with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 and VMA-513 aboard USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) and USS Essex (LHD 2); Marine Aircraft Group 26 as the senior medical representative for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261 and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, deploying aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in support of Operation Noble Obelisk in Sierra Leone; and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Iwakuni, Japan, deploying with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 212 in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Cole also served aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Green Bay (LPD 20) as the leading chief for the health services department and then as command senior chief when selected to the Command Senior Chief Program.
Ashore, he took his fleet experience back to the schoolhouse as the senior instructor for the Aerospace Medicine “C” School. His command master chief tours include time aboard USS Thach (FFG 43), completing two Western Pacific deployments; as the regional command master chief of U.S. Naval Forces Korea and Commander, Task Force 78; and with the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. Cole most recently served as the Naval Education and Training Command and MyNavy HR Force Development force master chief.
Cole assumed the duties as the U.S. Naval Academy’s Command Master Chief in July 2020.
His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal (two awards); Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards); Army Commendation Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (eight awards); and various unit and campaign awards.