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Richard Cole, Last Doolittle Raider, Passes Away at 103 in Texas

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Following hospitalization, Richard Cole passed away in San Antonio on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the age of 103. He was the last of the famed Doolittle Raiders of World War II, and a long-time Texas Hill Country resident. During his care at the Brooke Army Medical Center, he received a number of high-profile visitors.

The Doolittle Raiders consisted of 80 members. They were best known for their World War II exploits in the South Pacific, in particular, a daring air raid in Japan. It served to boost U.S. morale, and Cole played an integral role at the young age of 26. He was the co-pilot to Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle himself, in the lead aircraft of 16 during in the April 18, 1942, Tokyo raid. This raid eventually became Hollywood material in a movie that starred Spencer Tracy in the leading role.

Shared on the Rick Davi YouTube channel, the clip above is “from the 1944 movie ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’…Based on the autobiographical account in the book ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’ by Ted W. Lawson and Robert Considine.” The Express-News reported that Jimmy Doolittle was Cole’s idol from a young age. He once rode 25 miles on a bicycle just to see him fly. “I had my own confidence, but we all had Jimmy Doolittle,” Cole said told the San Antonio Express-News. “His confidence flowed into us and we would have followed him anywhere.”

Richard Cole, Last Doolittle Raider, Passes Away at 103 in Texas

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner.)

For his role in the bombing, Cole received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Upon word of Cole’s passing, praises began to pour in from famous actors, members of the U.S. Air Force, and so many more close friends and relatives. Richard Cole passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Tuesday, April 9, 2019. His family has requested that in lieu of flowers, gifts, or cards, scholarship donations be considered by those who wish to honor him. His presence was felt deeply, and his loss will leave an even greater impression.