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Old 04-10-2019, 09:58   #1
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The last Dolittle Raider dies at 103

Richard E. Cole, Co-Pilot Crew 1:

DALLAS — Retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole, the last of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who carried out the daring U.S. attack on Japan during World War II, died Tuesday at a military hospital in Texas. He was 103.

Robert Whetstone, a spokesman for Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, confirmed Cole's death. Cole's daughter, Cindy Chal, said he was having some heart issues but had walked into the emergency room.

Cole, who lived in Comfort, Texas, had stayed active even in recent years, attending air shows and participating in commemorative events including April 18, 2017, ceremonies for the raid's 75th anniversary at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

Cole was a Dayton-area native who recounted riding his bicycle as a child to watch planes at McCook Field, a military testing air base there. He dreamed of being a pilot and after attending Ohio University, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940. Stationed in South Carolina, he signed up as a volunteer for a secret mission he knew would be dangerous, but not much else about. They trained at Eglin Air Force to fly B-25 bombers on short takeoffs, in preparation for flying off an aircraft carrier.

The Raiders launched their assault April 18, 1942, in B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet. Suspecting they had been detected by Japanese patrols, they left farther away from Japan than planned.

The crews of the 16 planes were "very quiet" as they neared Japan, Cole recalled, saying his role next to Doolittle was to "be seen, not heard. ... You didn't speak until spoken to." But the country song "Wabash Cannonball" started running through his head and he unconsciously began tapping his toe, which caught Doolittle's attention. He shot Cole a look, he recalled with a laugh.

Doolittle soon ordered bomb bay doors opened, and the attack was on against what turned out to be limited anti-aircraft fire in the surprise attack.

They then headed to China, running out of fuel. Cole said Doolittle gave the command to prepare to bail out as they neared the coast, adding: "I wish you all good luck."

Cole said it was scary to parachute into a dark "unknown" in rough weather. His parachute caught in a tree, leaving him dangling but safe. Chinese partisans helped lead him and other Raiders to safety.

Three Raiders died trying to reach China, and eight were captured by Japanese soldiers. Three were executed, and a fourth died in captivity.

Cole recalled that Doolittle was distraught at first, upset that he had lost all of his planes and some of his men. Doolittle would later receive the Medal of Honor.
The raid inflicted scattered damage while providing a psychological lift back home. The stunned Japanese military diverted resources after a string of Pacific successes.

"Seven decades later, we are still awed by the sheer audacity of the Doolittle raid and the incredible men whose grit and bravery made it possible," Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi of California said when the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the Raiders in a 2015 ceremony. "Though time has thinned their ranks, it will never dim the daring of their deeds."

Cole continued to fly missions in the China-Burma-India theater until 1944, and had peacetime service assignments in several states.

In an AP interview in April, 2017, Cole described as "a somber affair" the toast he planned to carry out to end a long Raider tradition. Using goblets engraved with their names, they each year lifted them and sipped cognac in tribute to those who had gone before. Retired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher died in 2016 at age 94 in Missoula, Montana.

Doolittle organized reunions that became annual affairs, and Cole was a regular. He also took part in other special events, including leading a special public "final toast" ceremony at the museum in 2013, when four Raiders were still alive. He said then: "May they rest in peace."

He said in April 2017 he hadn't expected to be the last survivor, since he was older than most on the mission.

Cole attributed his longevity to being an optimist and living a life of "moderation." He said he believed he spoke for all Raiders when he said they didn't want any more recognition than all the others who put their lives on the line in the war effort.

"We don't want to be remembered any more than the rest of the people who took part in beating the Japanese," Cole said. "They started it, and we finished it."
Chal said a memorial service is planned for April 18 at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. She said her father will be buried later at Arlington National Cemetery.


Rest in Peace, Raiders!
"Hector Lives!"

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." -- Frederick Douglass

"The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen." -- Dennis Prager

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." --H.L. Mencken

Last edited by PSM; 04-10-2019 at 13:24.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:17   #2
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Humble man! May you rest in peace, Sir and thank you for your service to your country.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:58   #3
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God Bless you, Sir. Be at peace.
"It is a brave act of valor to condemn death, but where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valor to dare to live." -Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)
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Old 04-10-2019, 15:00   #4
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Thank you for your service, and your courage.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2017
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Old 04-10-2019, 18:22   #5
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Rest is peace sir - and thank your for your service. May Almighty God welcome you and bless your family.

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Old 04-11-2019, 04:57   #6
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Rest In Peace Sir and God Bless the “Greatest Generation”!

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Old 04-11-2019, 06:39   #7
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RIP Warrior, Vaya con Dios
Go raibh tú leathuair ar Neamh sula mbeadh a fhios ag an diabhal go bhfuil tú marbh

"May you be a half hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead"
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:07   #8
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One of my favorite military special operations.

Rest in peace Sir.
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Old 04-11-2019, 17:23   #9
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Originally Posted by mojaveman View Post
One of my favorite military special operations.

Rest in peace Sir.
Ditto. Rest in Eternal Peace Sir! And man, those first crews had even less deck to launch from being at the front.
Serious Brass Ones. Hand Salute.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:06   #10
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I had the honor of meeting Dick Cole a couple of times, and attended his 100th birthday celebration. Helluva man.
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Old 04-15-2019, 10:36   #11
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Saturday night I watched Thirty Seconds over Tokyo and Last night I watched The Purple Heart.

Since both movies were made before the end of the war they both contained misinformation. For instance, in TPH, one of the charges against the crew was that they machine-gunned citizens. Before the raid, the aircraft had their guns removed to reduce weight. They were replaced by broomsticks painted black as a deterrent to any pursuing fighter aircraft.
"Hector Lives!"

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." -- Frederick Douglass

"The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen." -- Dennis Prager

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." --H.L. Mencken
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