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Flight Journal - - CONTENTS - By Frank B. Mormillo

The Last Raider Is Still Go­ing Strong

At 101 years of age, Lt. Col. Richard Cole (USAF, re­tired) is still a man with a mis­sion. The last survivor of the 80 of­fi­cers and en­listed men who fol­lowed then Col. Jimmy Doolit­tle off the deck of the air­craft car­rier USS Hor­net for the first air raid against Ja­pan on April 18, 1942, Cole’s cur­rent mis­sion is to pro­mote the Gen­eral James H. Doolit­tle Schol­ar­ship Fund. The fund is in­tended to ben­e­fit stu­dents pur­su­ing a bach­e­lor’s or ad­vanced de­gree in cour­ses lead­ing to a de­gree in aero­nau­tics, en­gi­neer­ing, or aero­space science.

To help pro­mote the schol­ar­ship fund, Cole trav­els across the coun­try sell­ing books and prints as well as pos­ing for pho­tos with ad­mir­ers and sign­ing au­to­graphs. All pro­ceeds from the book and print sales go to the schol­ar­ship fund. The book is ti­tled Dick Cole’s War: Doolit­tle Raider, Hump Pilot, Air Com­mando, and the print com­mem­o­rat­ing the Tokyo Raid is ti­tled “Pay­back Time!”

Cole was Doolit­tle’s copi­lot on the Tokyo Raid, which saw 80 fliers man 16 North Amer­i­can B-25 Mitchells for a mis­sion that shocked the Ja­panese Em­pire and caused the en­emy to re­think its over­all bat­tle plan. Doolit­tle’s Tokyo Raiders had ex­pected to launch from the air­craft car­rier, strike their tar­gets on the Ja­panese home­land, and pro­ceed on to land at bases in China. How­ever, forced to launch ear­lier than planned when a Ja­panese ship showed up, they didn’t have enough fuel to reach any air bases in China. One of the B-25s di­verted to Rus­sia, while the oth­ers ditched in the wa­ters near the Chi­nese coast or were aban­doned over land. Of the 80 crew­men, three were killed in ac­tion, eight were cap­tured by the Ja­panese (three of the POWs were ex­e­cuted, and one died in cap­tiv­ity), five were in­terned by the Rus­sians (and even­tu­ally al­lowed to re­turn to U.S. con­trol), and the rest man­aged to sur­vive with rel­a­tively few in­juries, thanks to lo­cal Chi­nese civil­ians, many of whom later suf­fered ter­ri­bly at the hands of the Ja­panese.

Many of the Doolit­tle Raiders went on to fur­ther ser­vice in the war against the Axis forces. Cole re­mained in the China-Bur­maIn­dia (CBI) Theater of Op­er­a­tions un­til July 1943 and then re­turned to the CBI again from Oc­to­ber 1943 to June 1944. He left ac­tive duty in Jan­uary 1947 but re­turned to duty with the Air Force again in Au­gust 1947. Cole was the war op­er­a­tions ad­vi­sor to the Venezue­lan Air Force from 1959 to 1962 and then served in Ohio, North Carolina, and Cal­i­for­nia be­fore fi­nally re­tir­ing from ac­tive duty on De­cem­ber 31, 1966. For his ser­vice, Richard Cole was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross with two Oak Leaf Clus­ters; the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Clus­ter; the Bronze Star; the Air Force Com­men­da­tion Medal; and the Chi­nese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, First Grade. On April 15, 2015, the Doolit­tle Raiders were also awarded a U.S. Con­gres­sional Gold Medal for their ser­vice to the coun­try, and the Air Force has an­nounced that its next-gen­er­a­tion bomber, the Northrop B-21, will be named “Raider” in honor of their ser­vice as well.

With his daugh­ter Cindy Chal at his side, Cole ar­rived at the Planes of Fame Air Mu­seum in Chino, Cal­i­for­nia, in the early af­ter­noon of May 17, 2017 (75 years af­ter the Doolit­tle Raid) to present a copy of the Doolit­tle Raiders Con­gres­sional Medal­lion to Karen Hin­ton, daugh­ter of the late Ed­ward T. Maloney, founder of the mu­seum, who passed away last year. Cole then spent two hours pos­ing for photographs and sign­ing au­to­graphs in front of “Photo Fanny,” the Planes of Fame Air Mu­seum’s North Amer­i­can B-25J Mitchell, be­fore tak­ing a break to go up for a flight in “Pa­cific Princess,” the B-25J Mitchell from Carl Scholl and Tony Ritz­man’s Aero Trader restora­tion shop in Chino. Af­ter that, the vet­eran re­turned to the mu­seum that evening for an­other two hours of pos­ing for photographs and sign­ing au­to­graphs—cer­tainly an im­pres­sive per­for­mance for any­one his age. Those in at­ten­dance found it hum­bling to be grasp­ing the hand that had played such an im­por­tant role in the na­tion’s his­tory and helped give us the life we en­joy to­day. All we could say was “thank you” and “We’ll re­mem­ber—for­ever.”

The Doolit­tle Raiders Con­gres­sional Gold Medal that Richard Cole pre­sented to Karen Hin­ton, daugh­ter of the late Ed­ward T. Maloney, founder of the Planes of Fame Air Mu­seum.

Richard Cole in front of “Photo Fanny,” the Planes of Fame Air Mu­seum’s North Amer­i­can B-25J Mitchell bomber.

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