Richard Cole, last WWII "Doolittle Raider," honored with memorial service
The military bid farewell Thursday to an American hero who gave his country hope when it needed it most. It was 77 years ago when "Doolittle's Raiders" took off on one of the most daring military operations ever. Sixteen bombers went on a one way mission to Japan.
"They bet big and it worked because nobody though such an attack was even possible," said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.
Richard "Dick" Cole was the co-pilot of the lead plane and the last survivor of the 80 men who struck back at Japan at a time when America was still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor. After dropping their bombs on Tokyo, Cole and his crew bailed out over China as their plane ran out of fuel and crashed.
Cole lived to be 103 and as age whittled down their number, the surviving Raiders decided to hold their last public reunion in 2013.
"All good things have to come to an end," Cole said.
They played to a packed house. People took their kids out of school, drove up to 16 hours and stood in line to shake Cole's hand.
On Thursday, in a hangar at an Air Force base in Texas, Cole, who was the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, packed the house one last time, with a memorial service in his honor. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
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