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Air Force honors legacy by celebrating a legend’s birthday

Doolittle Raiders

Gen. David Goldfein, U.S. Air Force chief of staff, and his wife Dawn Goldfein, speak with Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard Cole, the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Sept. 7, 2018. Goldfein called to wish Cole a happy 103rd birthday. The Doolittle raid was an air attack on Japan by the U.S. during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Cossaboom)

Doolittle Raiders

Gen. David Goldfein, U.S. Air Force chief of staff, and his wife, Dawn Goldfein, call the last remaining survivor of the Doolittle Raid, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard Cole, for his 103rd birthday on Sept. 7, 2018, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Cole was mission commander Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot during the raid, which was a World War II air bombing that targeted Tokyo on April 18, 1942 and is credited with lifting American spirits during the war in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFNS) -- When an Air Force legend celebrates their 103rd birthday, no doubt the service’s senior leader will take notice. 

The last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard Cole, received a special birthday greeting from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein Sept. 7, 2018.

“I am honored to celebrate your 103rd birthday,” Goldfein said to Cole. “It’s because of Air Force pioneers like you and your peers that the Air Force was shaped into the service it is today, and that we are able to celebrate its upcoming 71st birthday.” 

Cole and the other Raiders are an example of the Air Force’s successful history of innovation and joint operations.

On April 18, 1942, then-captain Cole co-piloted then-Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle’s No. 1 bomber, and their aircraft was the first to drop bombs during the raid over Japan.

Cole is a living reminder of the warrior spirit from which the Air Force was born. His selfless service and dedication to country resulted in an active-duty career that spanned from 1940-1962, Goldfein said. 

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