Last 2 Raiders give con­gres­sional medal to Ohio mu­seum


The last two “Doolit­tle Tokyo Raiders” pre­sented the group’s Con­gres­sional Gold Medal for per­ma­nent dis­play at a the Na­tional Mu­seum of the U. S. Air Force on Satur­day, 73 years to the day af­ter their dar­ing bomb­ing attack on Ja­pan ral­lied Amer­i­cans in World War II.

Re­tired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, 99, gave the medal to the mu­seum’s direc­tor in a cer­e­mony at the mu­seum near Dayton at­tended by mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cials and rel­a­tives of the orig­i­nal 80 Raiders. The medal, awarded by Congress ear­lier in the week, ar­rived in a cer­e­mo­nial B- 25 flight.

“We proudly hand over our Con­gres­sional Gold Medal to ( mu­seum direc­tor re­tired Lt. Gen.) Jack Hud­son, who we trust will re­spect­fully guard it and have it se­curely dis­played ... for the world to see and ap­pre­ci­ate,” Cole said.

Cole, a Dayton na­tive, was mission leader James “Jimmy” Doolit­tle’s co- pi­lot for the B- 25 bombers’ attack that stunned Ja­pan and lifted Amer­i­can spir­its less than five months af­ter the attack on Pearl Har­bor.

Cole re­called wryly Satur­day that on the evening of April 18, 1942, Thatcher was on beach in China help­ing save his crew af­ter a crash- land­ing, “And I was hang­ing in my parachute in a tree.”

Cole flew with Doolit­tle in plane No. 1 of the 16 launched from an air­craft car­rier. Thatcher was en­gi­neer- gun­ner aboard the 7th plane, nick­named “The Rup­tured Duck,” whose crew’s crash- land­ing and eva­sion of Ja­panese troops in China was de­picted in the movie “Thirty Sec­onds Over Tokyo.”

Re­tired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, who was played by Robert Walker in the movie while Spencer Tracy por­trayed Doolit­tle, chuck­led as he re­counted how the Raiders had given lit­tle thought at the time of the raid about earn­ing a place in his­tory.

“We fig­ured it was just an­other bomb­ing mission,” he said in a re­cent phone in­ter­view from his home. In the years af­ter­ward, though, he said, they re­al­ized: “It was an im­por­tant event in World War II.”

Three Raiders have died since their 70th an­niver­sary re­u­nion at the mu­seum in Ohio, two of them this year.

The lat­est to fall was Lt. Col. Robert Hite, who died March 29 at age 95 at a Nashville, Ten­nessee, nurs­ing fa­cil­ity. Hite was also the last of the eight Raiders who were cap­tured by Ja­panese sol­diers. Three were ex­e­cuted and a fourth died in cap­tiv­ity. Three other Raiders were killed soon af­ter the bomb­ing run, as most crash-landed or had to bail out.


This Satur­day, April 18, photo shows the U.S. Con­gres­sional Gold Medal given to the Doolit­tle Tokyo Raiders at the Na­tional Mu­seum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Pat­ter­son Air Force Base.

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