Lt. Dick Cole, The Last Of The Doolittle Raiders, Just Passed

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Lt. Dick Cole, The Last Of The Doolittle Raiders, Just Passed | World War Wings Videos

Robert Seale VIA WWII Veterans History Project / Facebook

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According to reports from his family, friends and the aviation community he was close with, Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole passed away on early Monday morning, April, 8th, 2019 in a hospital in Comfort, Texas. He was 103 and the last living Doolittle Raider.

Lt. Cole was an active member of the aviation community since World War II. Always humble, he spoke of his missions and never thought he “did anything extraordinary,” stating he was only doing his job.

What is by many regarded as a suicide mission, the Doolittle Raiders signed up just for that. An almost certain one-way trip to show the Japanese the U.S. was capable of bombing them right on their land at the possible cost of their own lives.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dick Cole, answers question about the raid during a luncheon in honor of the event at the Army Navy Club in Washington. | U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Public Domain

Cole was actually the copilot to Jimmy Doolittle himself and was part of the first aircraft and first crew to take off.

The Doolittle Raid

Also called the “Tokyo Raid,” this mission was a direct retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor a few months before and showed the Japanese the United States is capable of bombing their homeland, something they haven’t’ seen before.

A U.S. Army Air Forces North American B-25B Mitchell bomber takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) during the “Doolittle Raid”. Original description: “Take off from the deck of the USS HORNET of an Army B-25 on its way to take part in first U.S. air raid on Japan. Doolittle Raid, April 1942.” | U.S. Navy Photo / Public Domain

Led by Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, 16 B-25 Mitchells departed from USS Hornet (something that’s never been done before) on April 1942 and headed toward Tokyo and other strategic targets.

Since there was no way to land a medium bomber on a carrier, the crews were instructed to hit their targets and fly into China for safety. At the end 77 of the 80 crewmembers survived the initial raid, but eight were later caught by the Japanese Army of which three were executed.

Crew No. 1 in front of B-25#40-2344 on the deck of Hornet, 18 April 1942. From left to right: (front row) Lt. Col. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; (back row) Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner. | U.S. Army Air Force Photo / Public Domain

The survivors of the Doolittle Raid who could meet up a few times over the years both for personal purposes and for aviation panels did so for a number of years. That gathering got smaller and smaller with each passing year, however.

Unfortunately, as of today, April 9th, 2019, there will be no one to talk to anymore. You can watch one of his last interviews below.

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