Dick Cole Doolittle Raiders, died April 9, in San Antonio.
Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, the final survivor of the “Doolittle Raid,” died April 9, in San Antonio.
“Lt. Col. Dick Cole reunited with the Doolittle Raiders within the clear blue skies at present,” mentioned Secretary of the Air Power Heather Wilson. “My coronary heart goes out to his family and friends as our Air Power mourns with them. We are going to honor him and the brave Doolittle Raiders as pioneers in aviation who proceed to information our brilliant future.”
On April 18, 1942, the U.S. Military Air Forces and the Doolittle Raiders attacked Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, which boosted American morale within the early months of World Warfare II.
“There’s one other gap in our formation,” mentioned Air Power Chief of Workers Gen. David L. Goldfein. “Our final remaining Doolittle Raider has slipped the surly bonds of Earth, and has reunited along with his fellow Raiders. And what a reunion they have to be having. Seventy-seven years in the past this Saturday, 80 intrepid Airmen modified the course of historical past as they executed a one-way mission with out hesitation in opposition to monumental odds. We’re so proud to hold the torch he and his fellow Raiders handed us.”
Cole was born Sept. 7, 1915, in Dayton, Ohio. In 1938, he graduated from Steele Excessive College in Dayton and attended two years of faculty at Ohio College earlier than enlisting as an aviation cadet on Nov. 22, 1940. Quickly after he enlisted, Cole acquired orders to report back to Parks Air School in East St. Louis, Illinois, for coaching earlier than arriving at Randolph Subject, Texas and later, Kelly Subject, Texas. He accomplished pilot coaching and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in July 1941.
Whereas Cole was on a coaching mission with the 17th Bombardment Group at Pendleton, Oregon, phrase got here that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.
The 17th BG flew anti-submarine patrols till February 1942, when Cole was instructed he could be transferred to Columbia, South Carolina. Whereas there, he and his group volunteered for a mission with no identified particulars. Cole would later say that he thought his unit was heading to North Africa.
For weeks, Cole practiced flying maneuvers on the B-25 Mitchell, a U.S. Military Air Corps twin-engine propeller-driven bomber with a crew of 5 that might take off from an plane provider at sea, in what some would name the primary joint motion that examined the Military and Navy’s skill to function collectively. When the provider lastly went to sea to carry 16 bombers nearer to maximise their attain, it wasn’t till two days into the voyage that the Airmen and Sailors on the mission have been instructed that their provider, the usS. Hornet, and all of its bombers, have been heading within the route of Tokyo.
In an age-before mid-air refueling and GPS, the usS. Hornet weighed lower than 1 / 4 of at present’s fortress-like plane carriers. With Cole because the copilot to then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, the B-25 Mitchell bomber #40-2344, would take off with solely 467 ft of takeoff distance.
What made the mission all of the more difficult was a sighting by a Japanese patrol boat that spurred the duty drive commander, U.S. Navy Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey, to launch the mission greater than 650 nautical miles from Japan – 10 hours early and 170 nautical miles farther than initially deliberate. Initially, the Mitchells have been presupposed to land, refuel and proceed on to western China, thereby giving the Military Air Corps a squadron of B-25s and a commander. However now the aircrews confronted growing odds in opposition to them, of their try to succeed in the airfields of non-occupied China. Nonetheless, Cole and his friends continued with their mission.
Flying at wave-top stage round 200 ft and with their radios turned off, Cole and the Raiders averted detection for as a lot of the space as doable. In teams of two to 4 plane, the bombers focused dry docks, armories, oil refineries and plane factories in Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe in addition to Tokyo itself. The Japanese air protection was so caught off guard by the Raiders that little anti-aircraft fireplace was volleyed and just one Japanese Zero adopted in pursuit. With their bombs delivered, the Raiders flew in the direction of security in China.
Many Airmen needed to parachute out into the evening, Cole himself leaping out at round 9,000 ft. All plane have been thought-about misplaced with Cole’s personal plane touchdown in a rice paddy stuffed with evening soil. Of the 80 Airmen dedicated to the raid, eight have been captured by Japanese forces with 5 executed and three despatched to jail (the place one died of malnutrition). All the 72 different Airmen discovered their technique to security with the assistance of Chinese language farmers and guerrillas and continued to serve for the rest of World Warfare II.
The assault was a psychological blow for the Japanese, who moved 4 fighter teams and recalled high officers from the entrance strains of the Pacific to guard the cities within the occasion American bomber forces returned.
After the Doolittle Raid, Cole remained within the China-Burma-India Theater supporting the 5318th Provisional Air Unit as a C-47 pilot flying “The Hump,” a treacherous airway by way of the Himalayan Mountains. The USAAF created the 5318th PAU to assist the Chindits, the long-range penetration teams that have been particular operations items of the British and Indian armies, with Cole as one of many first members of the U.S. particular operations neighborhood. On March 25, 1944, the 5318th PAU was designated as the first Air Commando Group by USAAF commander Gen. Henry H. Arnold, who felt that an Air Power supporting a commando unit within the jungles of Burma ought to correctly be known as “air commandos.” Cole’s piloting abilities blended nicely with the unconventional aerial ways of Flying Tiger veterans as they supplied fighter cowl, bombing runs, airdrops and touchdown of troops, meals and tools in addition to evacuation of casualties.
Cole retired from the Air Power on Dec. 31, 1966, as a command pilot with greater than 5,000 flight hours in 30 completely different plane, greater than 250 fight missions and greater than 500 fight hours. His decorations embrace the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters; Air Medal with oak leaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal; Air Power Commendation Medal; and Chinese language Military, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, First Grade. All Doolittle Raiders have been additionally awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Might 2014.
In his last years, he remained a well-known face at Air Power occasions within the San Antonio space and toured Air Power schoolhouses and installations to advertise the spirit of service amongst new generations of Airmen. On Sept. 19, 2016, Cole was current throughout the naming ceremony for the Northup Grumman B-21 Raider, named in honor of the Doolittle Raiders.
“We are going to miss Lt. Col. Cole, and provide our everlasting thanks and condolences to his household,” Goldfein mentioned. “The Legacy of the Doolittle Raiders – his legacy – will dwell ceaselessly within the hearts and minds of Airmen, lengthy after we’ve all departed. Might we always remember the lengthy blue line, as a result of it’s who we’re.”