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Preston Jeremiah Cole
Biographical information


Date of birth

November 3, 2470[1]

Date of death

April 18, 2543[2]

Physical description




Hair color

Black, later brown

Eye color

Dark brown

Chronological and political information

Human-Covenant War

Notable Facts

Established the Cole Protocol, retook Harvest from the Covenant.



They told me to fight, and that's what I've done. Let historians sort through the wreckage, bodies, and broken lives to figure out the rest.[3]

Admiral Preston Jeremiah Cole was a UNSC Naval officer during the Human-Covenant War. He is best known for his role in creating the Cole Protocol, a central UNSC law of the Human-Covenant War. His service number was 03956-26127-PC.[4][note 1]




Early Life

Preston Jeremiah Cole was born on November 3, 2470, to Jennifer Francine Cole and Troy Henry Cole, in the rural reconstituted township of Mark Twain, Missouri.[5] He was the third child of seven (three sisters and three brothers). Growing up he was described as a precocious child who obeyed his parents. He had wild black hair, and dark brown eyes. His father was a dairy farmer with no criminal record, no military background, and followed the Quaker faith with no particular zeal. His mother was arrested once at the age of twenty-one for protesting taxes (released on one year parole), and both her grandfathers served in the Rain Forest Wars (one surviving, Captain Oliver Franks, received the Bronze Star). Tax records show that despite living in a period of prosperity, Cole's family struggled to make ends meet.

Preston's fifth grade teacher, Dr. Lillian Bratton, reported Cole as "...a boy of high natural intellect, [who] tends to work to hard even when he plays." She noted his tendency to over-analyze, and stated he had a lack of imagination. That same year he achieved an unprecedented perfect test score in Mr. William Martin's pre-algebra class. Upon being accused of cheating and retesting, he once again produced a perfect score. A social worker was sent to Cole's home to investigate the school's claims that Preston was being overworked at home, however they found no evidence physical or psychological abuse.

When he was fourteen Cole wrote a paper in English class entitled "The Viability of Extended Colonization." Although it was not particularly well received by his teacher, it turned out to be prophetically accurate in predicting the Insurrection. Although Cole wished to enlist in the UNSC Navy upon graduation, his low grades in high school kept him from immediately attending a prestigious military college. Instead he enlisted as a non-commissioned officer.

Early Career

On September, 21, 2488 Cole enlisted in the UNSC Navy. Upon graduation from Unified Combined Military Boot Camp (UCMB) Sierra Largo and vacuum and microgravity training (aka "barf school"), Cole was assigned to the CMA Season of Plenty. While on the ship Cole formulated a new way of calculating slipspace input parameters. This combined with his strong work ethic resulted in his being recommended to the Luna OCS Academy.

At OCS he would fall into a scandal involving the overnight disappearances of Inna Volkov, the daughter of Admiral Konrad Volkov, from officers' family quarters on base. Sightings of the girl in the company of a young man were reported. Soon, a child was produced, presumably by those liaisons. On June 7, 2492 six cadets, one of them Cole, were brought before a Board of Inquiry to testify. Though Cole was not found guilty of any wrongdoing, he married Inna two months later, with the admiral acting as a witness. They had a two-week honeymoon, then Cole was reassigned to the UNSC destroyer Las Vegas. Ivan Troy Cole, who was not Preston's biological son, was born December 12th, 2492.

In his report on Cole's life, Codename: SURGEON suggests three reasons why this marriage took place. The first was that the admiral knew which cadet was the true father and didn't like what he saw, and thus found a suitable replacement for his daughter: Cole. A second was that the child was not the offspring of any of the cadets and thus the admiral's grandchild would have been fatherless. The third was that Cole had the liaison with Inna, though was not the father of the child. Either way, Admiral Volkov either made Cole marry his daughter or else Cole was compelled by a sense of chivalry.

The two remained married and over the next eight years had two more sons and a daughter, which were Cole's biologically. However as the Insurrection flared up Cole saw very little of Inna and their children, being engaged on the frontier for months and even years at a time.


In 2494, while posted on the Las Vegas, Cole was involved in what would come to be known as the Callisto Incident. That year Insurrectionists captured the corvette UNSC Callisto. In response the UNSC dispatched a battle group containing three light destroyers - the Jericho, the Buenos Aires, and the Las Vegas - to hunt down the renegade ship. Their crews and their weapons were inexperienced and untested, and were caught by surprise when the Insurrectionists detonated a meteor with a nuclear weapon, destroying the Buenos Aires and severely damaging the Las Vegas and Jericho. The entire bridge crew of the Las Vegas, save Cole, were killed or incapacitated, leaving him in command of the ship. Cole signaled the Callisto, declaring the crews' surrender. However, Cole ordered the crew to remove the ship's last Ares missile from its silo and transport it to Cargo Bay 5. When the Callisto docked with the Las Vegas the missile was fired directly into the corvette, crippling it and forcing its surrender.

Cole's faked distress signal was both a stroke of genius and breach of protocol so severe that UNSC CENTCOM dithered over whether to award him the Legion of Honor or to have him court-martialed. Ultimately they did neither, to avoid setting precedent. However, from that point on Cole could never again send a distress signal in enemy territory; no one would believe it. As he stated in his personal log: "Surrender, quite literally, is no longer an option for me."[6]

Cole was quickly promoted to Commander and given a small corvette to patrol the Outer Colonies. After a dozen successful engagements in five years against insurgent forces and privateer fleets he was promoted to Captain and received the honor of commanding the first heavy destroyer-class vessel armed with a Magnetic Accelerator Cannon, the UNSC Gorgon. Cole led the vessel in numerous engagements, most notably in three against the captured frigate UNSC Bellerophon/Bellicose, which escaped twice and fought to a draw once. In their final encounter, Cole and the opposing captain engaged in a tête à tête through a series of text messages.

Inna filed for divorce in 2500. Cole wrote her, accepting responsibility for the failure of their marriage, stating that she never wanted a long-distance military marriage, and though he would always love her, he could not ignore his duty to humanity. He continued to write home to his children, but received no replies, leading him to believe that Inna was burning his letters.

He would spend several years fighting Insurrectionists across the Outer Colonies. He would score victories in nearly all his battles, though he suffered psychological problems to due his divorce.

Cole at his apartment before returning to Navy service in 2525.

Preston took a leave from duty in 2502 and married his second wife, Lyra. Unfortunately for Cole, she turned out to be a high-ranked Insurrectionist and captain of the former Bellerophon, now renamed the Bellicose, and Preston's talents were put to waste as the Navy reassigned him to a desk duty, his integrity in question. Only the efforts of Harold Stanforth kept him from facing a court martial.

By 2525, he was living alone in his apartment. He had gone through three divorces, and his health was worse for the wear: he had two heart attacks and had a cloned liver implanted[7].

Battles Against The Covenant

Despite his poor health, Cole returned to the military in 2525. After the UNSC Heracles returned to Reach, badly damaged from first contact with the Covenant [8], the Office of Naval Intelligence requested that Cole return to service to lead the largest battle group in human history, consisting of forty ships, to Harvest in hopes of defeating the extraterrestrial threat[7]. He reluctantly accepted their request, and his old rank of Vice Admiral was restored.

Cole fought the Second Battle of Harvest in 2526, in which forty of Cole's ships engaged a single Covenant vessel. The aliens' superior weaponry and technology overwhelmed the fleet, and Cole was on the verge of retreating. However, with Cole's use of intelligence gathered during the Battle of Chi Ceti, he realized that Covenant shield technology was vulnerable to massive, concentrated fire. Cole ordered all ships fire everything they had at the ship, with MACs first, followed by Archer missiles and Shiva nuclear warheads. Although his fleet defeated the vessel, thirteen UNSC ships were destroyed during the fight.[7][9]

The news of his promotion to full Admiral was announced on UNSC-controlled television. However, ONI had removed information of the Covenant and replaced the battle information with that of a communications satellite captured by Insurrectionists, in which Cole was "ordered" to destroy. The worlds of Second Base and Green Hills were initially reported as attacked by Insurrectionists, but were in fact glassed, and their combined population of two million killed. The abandoning of Chi Ceti IV was kept secret.

Due to the impossibility of keeping the war a secret, ONI's Section II went public and gave Cole command of the majority of their warships.[7] Cole continued the fight throughout the Outer Colonies for five more years.

The Battle of Alpha Aurigae in the Origami Asteroid Field in October 2526 had a total of 117 UNSC vessels defeated the Covenant's twelve (at least three of which were Assault Carriers); thirty-seven UNSC ships were lost.[9][7]

Xi Boötis A in 2528 saw the loss of thirty ships out of the UNSC's seventy to the Covenant. The Battle of the Great Bear at Groombridge-1830 in 2530 saw eleven destroyers out of the fleet of seventeen destroyed by three enemy ships.

Upon the recovering of a Sangheili survivor, Admiral Cole began writing the Cole Protocol. Knowing now that the Covenant had little knowledge of Humanity, he realized that secrecy would be advantageous against the Covenant.

Cole would return to Harvest in 2531, removing the Covenant forces that had again encroached on the Epsilon Indi System.

The Cole Protocol

Main article: United Nations Space Command Emergency Priority Order 098831A-1
Preston Cole creating the Cole Protocol.

United Nations Space Command Emergency Priority Order 098831A-1, better known as the Cole Protocol, was a law to prevent the Covenant from finding the location of Earth. Essentially, it was an order forbidding the Covenant to gain any opportunity to retrieve data regarding the location of Earth, and forbids retreating vessels from setting a direct course to Earth, as the Covenant were able to track Slipspace vectors and use them to locate the destination.

The policy also states that to prevent capture, any UNSC or Human vessel is to self destruct, after wiping all data matrices, to prevent the advance of the Covenant, and make sure they can not find Earth.

The first use of the Cole Protocol occurred during the Battle of the Rubble in 2534, where Lieutenant Jacob Keyes used it to escort one million people to Falaknuma using Section 4[10]. Though some other officers were anxious regarding Keyes' evacuation (most of the refugees were Insurrectionists), Cole stated that men like Keyes would win the war and promoted him to Commander.

Later Career and Death

It is possible that at some point after 2531, Admiral Cole was demoted or that his rank expired from full Admiral to Vice Admiral.[11]

The biggest and most crucial battle in Cole's career was the Battle of Psi Serpentis, in which Cole led a fleet of one hundred-sixty-two warships against a fleet of over three hundred Covenant ships. The engagement began when Cole's fleet, Battle Group India, exited Slipspace on the far side of the gas giant Viperidae. The Covenant fleet which had assembled there moved to engage the human ships, but Battle Group India split into two parts and attacked the Covenant from both sides of the planet. Tricking the Covenant into splitting their own forces, Cole's fleet quickly regrouped on one side and opened fire at one group of ships. With two thirds of the Covenant group decimated, the alien fleet regrouped and attacked Cole's fleet. Battle Group India scattered across the system, being picked off by the Covenant.

Just then, however, an Insurrectionist fleet led by the Bellicose suddenly exited Slipspace and charged the Covenant ships. The Insurrectionist fleet blew through the Covenant ships, and as suddenly as they appeared, jumped to Slipspace. With only a handful of Covenant ships left, Cole's fleet began to flee the battle; two Covenant fleets, numbering in over two hundred ships, then exited Slipspace to reinforce their other fleet. Cole ordered the remnants of Battle Group India to fall back from the planet, leaving Cole's command ship, Everest, to face the enemy alone. The Everest sped towards Viperidae, powered down all non-essential systems, and opened all missile silo doors.

"Listen to me, Covenant. I am Vice Admiral Preston J. Cole commanding the human flagship, Everest. You claim to be the holy and glorious inheritors of the universe? I spit on your so-called holiness. You dare judge us unfit? After I have personally sent more than three hundred of your vainglorious ships to hell? After kicking your collective butts off Harvest - not once - but twice? From where I sit, we are the worthy inheritors. You think otherwise, you can come and try to prove me wrong. Is that the best you can do? Watch what one unworthy human can do!"
—Preston Cole's last recorded words

Cole beamed an open-com transmission to the Covenant fleet, openly mocking them and questioning their religious superiority. The Covenant ignored Battle Group India and all moved towards the Everest. Cole plunged into the immense gravitational pull of Viperidae, now unable to get back out. The Covenant fired at the ship, but the gravity's interference prevented a kill. Cole taunted the Covenant one last time, then fired everything the Everest had - not at the Covenant, but into Viperidae. The highly unstable planetary core was unable to withstand over one hundred Shiva nuclear warheads, and exploded into a brown dwarf. When the explosion ceased, every Covenant ship, along with Preston Cole and the UNSC Everest, had been obliterated.


Admiral Cole's ONI memorial plaque.

There existed a painting in the HIGHCOM Security Committee Headquarters entitled Admiral Cole's Last Stand in reference to this.[12] After his apparent death, there was speculation that Admiral Cole, after destroying two whole Covenant fleets, might have made a last minute jump into Slipspace. It has also been speculated that he may have found a planet to colonize on, as he always wanted to retire to be a farmer. According to Codename: SURGEON, A.I.s analyzed footage from the Battle of Psi Serpentis, and calculated that there was a 90% chance that Cole survived and escaped in an emergency slipspace jump.[13] Cole was remembered by Humanity as a brilliant military tactician and a symbol of hope, now lost, and the day of his supposed death was designated a day of mourning.


  • The Cole Protocol was an effective law of the United Nations Space Command up until October 20th, 2552, when the Covenant found Earth during the Battle of Earth, thereby rendering the Protocol useless. [14]. It presumably continued to apply for other undiscovered UNSC colonies, though.


  1. According to Halo: Evolutions, Cole's service number was 00814-13094-BQ, which contradicts the typical SN format.


  1. Halo: Evolutions - The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, page 415
  2. Halo 3: ODST, ONI Memorial
  3. Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, Page 414
  4. ONI memorial
  5. Halo: Evolutions, page 415
  6. Halo: Evolutions, page 446
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Halo Wars: Genesis
  8. Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 98
  9. 9.0 9.1 Halo: Evolutions, The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole
  10. Halo: The Cole Protocol
  11. Halo: Evolutions - The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, Cole is constantly referred to in the short story as Vice Admiral. However, his memorial plaque refers to him as a full admiral; suggesting this is either a posthumous promotion or simple error.
  12. Halo: First Strike
  13. Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
  14. Halo 2, level Cairo Station

This article uses material from the "Preston Jeremiah Cole" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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