Richard Cole, The Last Of WW II's Doolittle Raiders, Will Be Honored In San Antonio | KERA News

Richard Cole, The Last Of WW II's Doolittle Raiders, Will Be Honored In San Antonio

Hundreds of Air Force airmen will line the main entrance of the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph to salute while family of Retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole — the last of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders — arrives for his memorial service.

Cole died Tuesday in San Antonio at the age of 103. The Air Force on Friday released details for a memorial being held on April 18 at the Air Force base in San Antonio.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole in 2015 after being presented with a Congressional Gold Medal honoring him for his part in the Doolittle Raid during WWII, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Credit Associated Press

The memorial is being held on the 77th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid during World War II.

» RELATED | Wreckage Of USS Hornet — Aircraft Carrier That Launched Doolittle Raid B-52s During World War II — Found In South Pacific

On April 18, 1942, the U.S. Army Air Forces and the Doolittle Raiders attacked Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor less than five months before.

Twenty B-25 "Mitchell" bombers line up on a runway at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio, on April 17, 2012. The WWII era warplanes had flown in for the 70th anniversary of the 1942 Doolittle Tokyo Raid.
Credit Associated Press

The daring bombing raid is credited with giving Americans a big morale boost in the Pearl Harbor aftermath.

Cole was the co-pilot for mission commander Jimmy Doolittle. Then-2nd. Lt. Cole became Doolittle’s co-pilot by chance, when the pilot he had been training with fell ill, the Air Force Times reports. Doolittle’s intended co-pilot also became unable to fly.

In groups of two to four aircraft, the bombers targeted dry docks, armories, oil refineries and aircraft factories in Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe as well as Tokyo itself, according to Joint Base San Antonio News. The Japanese air defense was caught off guard.

The attack against Japan was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy, which carried the 16 North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands.
Credit U.S Air Force

Many of the 80 airmen had to parachute into the night, including Cole, who jumped out at around 9,000 feet. His plane landed in a Chinese rice paddy.

Eight airmen were captured by Japanese forces, and five were executed, JBSA News says. Three were sent to prison. One died of malnutrition there. Chinese farmers and guerillas helped the other 72 airmen find their way to safety.

Cole, an Ohio native, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

» RELATED | Read Cole's Interview With History.net