Last Doolittle Raider

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Last Doolittle Raider

Post by myersair » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:32 pm

A friend of mine Richard Cole passed away on Tuesday April 9th he was 103. Richard was the last surviving Doolittle Raider and was LT Col James Doolittle's co-pilot.

I find it very disheartening that it didn't make much local or national news that day.

Mr. Cole was real gentleman, soft spoken, forward thinking, and one of the smartest people that I ever had the great pleasure to know. We were talking one day and I asked him about the flight that day with Mr. Doolittle and he replied.... son, I've done a lot of things in my 102 years but the thing I'm the most proud of is getting the chance to serve my country that day. He went on to say that Jimmy told them all in the pre-flight briefing the chances of them making it back was slim to none and anyone that didn't want to go could be excused, no one did.

Please let this be a reminder that we never forget the great men and women that stand up and serve our great country.

On another topic....I have attached a picture of "that's All Brother" and my T. This was the lead plane into the invasion of Normandy. I was the lucky person in charge of the complete restoration and to get it ready for the 75th anniversary scheduled on June 6th 2009. Also a picture of another DC-3 that was in our shop for maintenance.



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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Retro54 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:54 pm

What a honor to call that man a friend.

Do not loose too much heart. Nice write-up on the NY times. USA today also carried one. ... -dead.html


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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by RustyFords » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:23 pm

The Doolittle men often showed up at the Confederate Air Force Airshows in Harlingen, TX in the 1970's.

My mom was the secretary for the CAF and I spent afternoons in the office after school. During the days preceeding the big airshows, the WW2 pilots would arrive and hang out in the offices and the big hangar that had hundreds of salvaged pieces of nose art on the walls (I wasn't allowed to go in there, because a lot of the nose art was not for young eyes).

I remember being a little guy and shaking hands with some of the Doolittle men and noteworthy people like Jimmy Stewart, Tennesee Ernie Ford (he was always the MC for the show), Pappy Boyington and so on. It's too bad I was so young and not paying more attention than I did.

My mom was a very attractive young woman with a noteworthy, sweet southern voice and I was always glued to her side. So...these larger than life men who were in their 50's at the time naturally spoke to the little kid in order to flirt with the pretty young Texas lady. The CAF sold posters and model airplanes in the front of that little office and many of those guys signed those things for me. Such great memories.
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Ruxstel24 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:50 pm

RIP Lt. Cole, thanks for your service keeping us free.
Not many WWII survivors left at all, nor the values they fought for, it seems.
I am proud to be the son of one who's gone.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by ModelT46 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:03 pm

There a movie about the raid. Also Jimmy Stewart was in the Air Force reserves and I remember when he was promoted to a Brig. General.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Ken Lefeber » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:18 pm

I was lucky enough to see him at the EAA Air Show in Oshkosh last summer.
Boy, the stories he could tell!
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by KirkieP » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:41 pm

He made the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper this morning
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Gene_French » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:51 pm

Clear skies my friend ...RIP ...Gene K. French

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Dallas Landers » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:50 pm

" Home of the free because of the brave ! "

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Hap_Tucker » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:00 pm

We owe so much to those of the Greatest Generation. Rest in Peace.

Gratefully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off
Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Jerry VanOoteghem » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:27 pm

Heard about him today on National Public Radio.

I true hero in every sense of the word. May God give his soul rest and may we never forget what true heroism is.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Henry K. Lee » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:06 pm

An unbelievable person, Their raid boosted moral like nothing else could. To do that launch off of a carrier, do the raid, and fly to China for a ditch and hope you get home! WOW, what a generation. RIP My USAF Brother!


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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Oldav8tor » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:31 pm

I had the privilege of hearing Col. Cole speak twice recently and once several years ago at Oshkosh (the big fly-in.) I also got to hear Gen. Doolittle at Oshkosh as well and meet a number of other raiders before they passed. I always felt a kinship to these men, partly because of the incredible role they played in our history and partly because in the late 70's I flew as a B25 copilot on the airshow circuit where we often re-enacted the Doolittle raid, complete with short-field takeoff and low-level bombing. It took incredible courage to do what they did but most, especially Col. Cole, were very modest about their accomplishments.

With Col. Cole's passing we mark the end of an era, but he and the others he flew with on that mission shall never be forgotten. Blue skies and tailwinds Dick...
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Angmar » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:01 pm

My sister spend a lot of time with him and sent this to me today.
Still crankin old iron

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Burger in Spokane » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:03 pm

Service beyond self. A concept common to most Americans of that generation
and nearly lost today. Sad. This ain't my grandparents' America anymore.

A few weeks ago I happened upon a pile of local newspapers from WW2. I
scanned through a few and pointed out to the wifeperson that the only mention
of celebrities was what they were doing to support the war/troops. Not a single
story didn't have some relevance to the war effort, our reflection as a nation, or
things being done as/for the community. It was striking how different "the news"
was, compared to what is being "reported" today.

Clear skies, Colonel Cole.
More people are doing it today than ever before !

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Steve Jelf » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:51 pm

Doolittle bombers leaving San Francisco on the Hornet, March 1942. There's not a lot of runway for those first planes.
The inevitable often happens.
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Autie » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:03 am

Forever indebted......"Army Air Corps Song"
Off we go into the wild blue yonder
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At'em boys, giv'er the gun!
Down we dive spouting our flames from under,
Off with one hell-uv-a roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame,
Nothing'll stop the Army Air Corps!

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder
Sent it high into the blue
Hands of men blasted the world asunder,
How they live God only knew!
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings ever to soar,
With scouts before and bombers galore,
Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps!

Here's a toast to the host of those
Who love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend we send the message
Of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old,
Then down we roar
to score the rainbow's pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast the Army Air Corps.

Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true!
If you'd live to be a gray haired wonder,
Keep your nose out of the blue!
Flying men guarding our nation's borders,
We'll be there followed by more,
In echelon we carry on!
Nothing'll stop the Army Air Corps!

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by John Warren » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:26 am

Thanks Randy for the thread!! I went to the Oshkosh in 95 where I met many WWII vets, and probably shook Richards hand. Like said tail winds and blue sky's Lt. Richard Cole. I was honored to have a friend, Lt.Luther Tate, that fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. When he joined the air-force, It was called Strategic Air Command. We lost him last year at the age of 95. Honorable men. My heart and prayers goes out to Richards family and friends.
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by John Codman » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:36 am

It is sad that we are losing the members of the greatest generation at a rate higher then we did during WW 2. I hope that future generations of Americans do not forget what they owe to those brave men. I also hope that they don't forget that these brave men fought with weapons and equipment made by the women of the greatest generation.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by otrcman » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:57 pm

Last Sunday nite my wife and I were coming home from a visit with kids/grandkids in a nearby town. It would be dinner time by the time we got home, so we elected to stop at the local In 'N Out Burger. We placed our order and then my wife snagged the only open table while I waited for the order to come up.

When I arrived at the table with our dinner, and elderly gentleman was just sitting down across from my wife at our four seat table. The fellow had not been able to find a table of his own and had asked whether he might sit down at our table. We both welcomed him, as a matter of simple courtesy and out of respect for his age.

I noticed immediately that he was wearing a U.S. Navy WWII Veteran's hat. I remarked on his veteran status and he proceeded to tell us about his service. He had joined in early 1945, at the age of 17. Clearly he never made it overseas. He was released from service within a couple of years to go to school. And then was recalled for the duration of the Korean War.

Our order had come up first, but he said he was not far behind. Soon a young employee came by, cleaning tables. Our new friend inquired as to the status of his order number, as his hearing was poor. The young man returned, saying that the order was imminent and that he would deliver it to the table as soon as possible. The order arrived within minutes, delivered most courteously.

Finishing our dinners, we parted company with smiles all around. His parting words were to thank us for sharing our table.

It was our privilege.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Grady Puryear » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:31 pm

I for one am glad that someone is recognizing the passing of Mr. "Dick" Cole, there has been precious little about it anywhere else that I have found. He was a frequent Guest at our local Ex Military Flyers Club, and one could not wish for a better Guest, always a Gentleman in every sense of the word, always glad to shake hands and visit with one and all. In my opinion, he was still as good a pilot as any, and better than some, age seemed to have had no effect whatsoever in his abilities. What most do not know is that he had more time in C-47 aircraft that in the B-25 that he bombed Tokyo in. After their bomb run, he said that they flew on until almost out of fuel, and Doolittle made the decision to jump while they still had control of the plane. Dick landed in China in the top of a tree, alone, and after a couple of days was fortunate enough to be reunited with the rest of the crew. He said that they were shuttled about for some time before someone made a decision that there was a need for pilots to fly the "Hump". Dick volunteered, even though having just completed one of the most harrowing experiences in his life. Even though primarily assigned to fly as a C-47 pilot, hauling freight over the Hump, mostly aviation fuel in drums; he would on occasion fly a bombing raid in a B-25. He said most of their time was spent flying out of Assam, India, and then on to Kunming, China, over the mountains that reached as high as 20,000', with no navigational aids, icing, typhoons, hurricane winds and anything else that nature could throw at them, including an occasional attack by Japanese fighters. There were many planes and crews lost, almost 1,000 crew, and almost as many planes, but Dick survived. After a year of this, he was rotated back to the States. In time he was again sent to the CBi, again as a volunteer. This time around, he not only flew cargo, but began to tow gliders loaded with troops and supplies. This was primarily done to support the troops, mostly British and "Chindits", being inserted into Burma to harass the Japanese. After another year of this, Dick was again rotated stateside until Wars end, when he was Discharged. He later was called back and served in Japan, Korea, the Pentagon, Venezuela, and etc., finally retiring for good in 1966. He had been in three Wars in the CBI, another stint after reentering the Service, and had received three (3) Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, and many others, with some from the Chinese. This is as close to a tribute that I can pay to Mr. Cole, I don't have the vocabulary for much more, but suffice it to say that he exemplified what was good and great in those times, and we all owe him a big Thank You, in my mind he personified the Greatest Generation, and I sincerely hope that we will somehow get back on track. I know that all of us in our Ex Military Flyers Club thought the world of him, and there was no way that we could compare our experiences with his, and in speaking to him about it, one would never dream that this Guy had done all this. So long, Colonel, see you soon.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Mike Royster » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:02 pm

It made my local paper in Shelby NC!!

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Hal » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:50 am

Anyone else man enough to admit he has a tear in his eye reading this?

I never met any of the Doolittle Raiders, but did meet Robert L. Scott, Bob Hoover, and Paul Tibbets. Truly great men, all.

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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Kaiser » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:31 am

Here's the News reel :
The take off is hairy to say the least !these men had balls !
R.I.P. Col. Cole
When in trouble, do not fear, blame the second engineer ! 8-)
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Re: Last Doolittle Raider

Post by Bob_Rogers » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:06 pm

About 15 years ago my wife and I took our son out of school for the day to ride in a B-17 and hear Dick Cole speak at an airshow. Truly a humble and honorable man! At the end of the day, Dick Cole was going to ride in one of the aircraft and a group of local dignatories escorted him out to the flight line. My son, aged 12, darted under the rope keeping the crowd back and ran to Dick Cole. He had a World War Two aviation book, opened it to a page with that famous photograph of Doolittle's plane just leaving the flight deck, and asked Dick Cole for his autograph. Not only did he sign the page, but to the chagrin of the dignatories, Dick Cole spent 5-6 minutes chatting with our son. He was truly a great American!

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