HomeNewsArticle Display

Final Doolittle Raider’s tradition of honor, legacy of valor celebrated at memorial

Attendees bow their heads during the invocation at a memorial service for retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019.

Attendees bow their heads during the invocation at a memorial service for retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019. Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, was the co-pilot on a B-25 Mitchell for then-Col. Jimmy Doolittle during the storied World War II Doolittle Tokyo Raid and was a founding Airman of the USAF Special Operations community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tristin English)

The family of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Goldein, and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson watch the T-38C Talon Missing Man flyover during a memorial service celebrating Cole's life at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and memorial attendees watch flyover during a memorial service celebrating the life of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019. Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, was the co-pilot on a B-25 Mitchell for then-Col. Jimmy Doolittle during the storied World War II Doolittle Tokyo Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean Worrell)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks to attendees at the memorial service to celebrate the life of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks to attendees at the memorial service to celebrate the life of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019. Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, was the co-pilot on a B-25 Mitchell for then-Col. Jimmy Doolittle during the storied World War II Doolittle Tokyo Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

Richard Cole, son of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, speaks to attendees during a memorial service for his father at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019.

Richard Cole, son of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, speaks to attendees during a memorial service for his father at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019. The last surviving Doolittle Raider and a founding Airman of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations community, Cole passed away April 9 in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Johnny Saldivar)

Aaron Cole, a grandson of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, sings the national anthem during a memorial service for his grandfather at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019.

Aaron Cole, a grandson of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, sings the national anthem during a memorial service for his grandfather at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019. Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, was among 80 Airmen who took part in the storied World War II Doolittle Tokyo Raid and was a founding Airman of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Johnny Saldivar)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michelle Doolittle, a descendant of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, sings “America the Beautiful” during a memorial service celebrating the life of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas April 18, 2019.

Staff Sgt. Michelle Doolittle, a descendant of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, sings “America the Beautiful” during a memorial service celebrating the life of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, April 18, 2019. Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, was the co-pilot on a B-25 Mitchell for then-Col. Jimmy Doolittle during the storied World War II Doolittle Tokyo Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo by Johnny Saldivar)

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein addresses the family of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole during a memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas April 18, 2019.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein addresses the family of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole during a memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas April 18, 2019. Cole was the last surviving Doolittle Raider who took part in the storied World War II raid on Tokyo and was a founding Airman of the U. S. Air Force Special Operations community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Johnny Saldivar)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) --

The tradition of honor and legacy of valor that defined the life of retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole were celebrated during a memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, April 18.

On the day marking the 77th anniversary of the storied World War II Doolittle Tokyo raid and in a hangar surrounded by vintage aircraft linked to the Doolittle Raider’s career, Cole’s family and friends, Air Force senior leaders, and Airmen of all ranks gathered to recognize the accomplishments of the humble warrior from Ohio who answered his nation’s call in America’s darkest days.

After a stirring rendition of the national anthem by Cole’s grandson Aaron, Rich Cole, Lt. Col. Cole’s son and a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel like his father, spoke passionately about his father and his willingness to be a wingman and leader, defending his country with his life.

“All the (Doolittle Raiders) thought they were doing their job and they didn’t expect the adoration they got when they returned home,” Rich Cole said. “One of the greatest lessons my dad imparted on us was that being willing to do something impossible and die for your country was an honorable thing.”

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson talked to those gathered about the strategic importance of the Doolittle Raiders and their risky mission to fly, fight and win in retaliation against Japan for their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor just months earlier.

“(The Raiders) planned the unthinkable,” Wilson said. “To strike Tokyo from an aircraft carrier...with a land-based bomber. If the 16-ship package had been discovered by Japanese subs, it could have ended what was left of the U.S. fleet in the Pacific.”

Wilson recounted how Cole once described heroes as those “who took risks that brought about important consequences,” but never counted himself among them.

“When America was at its lowest point, it needed a hero,” Wilson said. “(America) found 80 of them who put the country on their back and flew straight into the heart of the enemy. For this, we will never forget.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told the audience several stories centered on Cole and how unassuming he was about his career, which included becoming one of the first air commandos in the U.S. special operations community, viewing his own place in history simply as someone doing their job as part of the big picture.

“(Cole) and the Doolittle Raiders made the impossible, possible since 1942 as pioneers of global strike,” Goldfein said. “On that fateful day, Col. Cole and his fellow wingmen cemented the very notion of joint airpower with the clear statement that America’s Air Force can hold any target at risk anywhere, anytime.”


Acknowledging the Cole family’s loss, the chief of staff spoke to Cole’s significant contributions to our nation’s defense and lifetime place in the Air Force family as “one of the rare giants of the Greatest Generation.”

“(Cole’s) legacy will endure because as long as there is a United States Air Force, Airmen will toast him and his fellow Doolittle Raiders,” Goldfein said. “We are better prepared today to defend our great nation because of him…and because of you.”

Staff Sgt. Michelle Doolittle from the Band of the Golden West based at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., then sang “America the Beautiful” with backup from the Band of the West’s Freedom Brass quintet from JBSA-Lackland.

The performance held special meaning to the family with Staff Sgt. Doolittle being a descendant of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who led the raid on Tokyo and flew with Cole in Aircraft No. 1 in the B-25 Mitchell formation off the deck off the U.S.S. Hornet.

The city of San Antonio, represented by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, then presented the Cole family with a resolution of respect for Cole’s military service and record of personal sacrifice in helping others, as well as acknowledging Cole’s deep ties to the San Antonio area and expressing their condolences over his passing.

Even after retirement from the service in 1966, Cole never left his fellow Airmen behind, representing the Air Force and the Doolittle Raiders at events around the country, promoting the spirit of service and heritage among new generations of Airmen.

“The Doolittle Foundation Scholarship foundation was extremely important to my dad,” Rich Cole said. “He spent the last 50 years of his life raising awareness and donations for the scholarship; it really was his way of not only giving back to Gen. (Jimmy) Doolittle’s memory, but to the Air Force.”

After a final salute to the Doolittle Raider from his son, and with “Amazing Grace” wafting over the hangar from a ceremonial bagpipe, guests were ushered outside for flybys from aircraft with historical significance and ties to Cole, including an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft from his days with the 95th Bombardment Squadron; a B-52 Stratofortress bomber; a historic B-25 Mitchell bomber; and finally a “Missing Man” formation flown by T-38C Talons from the 12th Flying Training Wing.

Engage

Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: On behalf of our #Airmen and families, congrats and welcome to Ms. Jones, our new Under Secretary of the @usairforce. #…
Twitter
Jumping into the weekend Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron pe… https://t.co/VLRxCb90mw
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Getting ready for the big leap into civilian life? #Airmen preparing to separate from active duty service can take steps towar…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary Roth on the confirmation of Gina Ortiz Jones to serve as the Under Secretary of the Air Force. ⬇️ https…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Confirmed yesterday by the Senate, Gina Ortiz Jones will be the next Under Secretary of the Air Force! Read more ⬇️ @US
Twitter
The Senate unanimously confirmed Gina Ortiz Jones to be Under Secretary of the Air Force, clearing the way for the… https://t.co/Q8SFw2fq45
Twitter
Hundreds of Airmen participated alongside @USArmy Soldiers in the inaugural Pacific Warriorz 2021 Joint and Total… https://t.co/fAPp4UGjmW
Twitter
RT @US_EUCOM: #JF21-2 is designed to test simulated emergency response procedures, ballistic missile defense & crisis response assistance i…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Thanks to the conservation upgrades, Keesler AFB expects an annual savings of 113,840 million British Thermal Units, a 15.8 p…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: .@Spangdahlem_AB was the first wing in @HQUSAFEAFAF capable of Agile Combat Employment. Being agile & persistent is a m…
Twitter
After catastrophic flooding in Germany & Belgium, @Spangdahlem_AB volunteers provide relief. “80% of people on Sp… https://t.co/6roLIRoFT0
Twitter
RT @Southcom: Supporting our partners in #Suriname: A @usairforce C-17 from @TeamCharleston delivered a field hospital to Suriname July 1…
Twitter
Congratulatons! 🎓 https://t.co/dzK8o0E9rK
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: On the latest edition of the Air Force Starts Here Podcast, we discuss the modernization of the @usairforce Career Developm…
Twitter
F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron fire munitions at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base range during Thracian Star 21 i… https://t.co/aYEY5PoEWD
Twitter
The #AirForce Civil Engineer Center, in partnership with the USAF Installation Contracting Center, has streamlined… https://t.co/8iFGwfrYHR
Twitter
A-10 Thunderbolt II's auxiliary power unit insulation is on the path of modernization as the Ogden Air Logistics Ce… https://t.co/3vWCDmV8Sf
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr made his first trip to Europe as CSAF, to visit European counterparts in France, and virtually at th… https://t.co/fnK8dTaHA4
Twitter
RT @AFResearchLab: Have you ever had that lightbulb 💡 moment where a new game changing idea pops into your head? Well the @usairforce, @S
Twitter
RT @SecDef: We train to win future conflicts. @NORADCommand and @USNorthernCmd are currently leading #GIDE3 with all 11 combatant commands…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,354,015
Follow Us