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Richard Cole (1915–2019), last surviving member of World War II’s Doolittle Raiders

by Kirk Fox

Co-pilot of the lead plane in the daring air raid on Japan.

Richard Cole was the last surviving member of the daring Doolittle Raiders who bombed Japan during an aerial raid in World War II. He was one of 80 U.S Air Force personnel who took part in the raid in April 1942, dropping bombs on seven cities in Japan. Cole was the co-pilot in the lead B-25 with pilot Jimmy Doolittle that bombed Tokyo. Running out of fuel on their return, they had to bail out over China and were helped by Chinese troops. The raid did little damage but was a major morale booster for the country during the beginning of the war, occurring only four months after Pearl Harbor. Cole continued to serve in the China-Burma-India Theater until 1943. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Died: Tuesday, April 9, 2019 (Who else died on April 9?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 103, according to his family.

Cole was a humble hero: “We were just doing our job, part of the big picture, and happy that what we did was helpful.” —Cole, according to the Air Force Times 

What they said about him: “#RIP Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Cole. The last Doolittle Raider passed away at age 103. He was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead B-25 that launched from USS Hornet on April 18, 1942 to bomb Tokyo. The daring raid was a significant achievement in joint Army-Navy operations.” —U.S. Naval Institute on Twitter 

Full obituary: Northwest Florida Daily News

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