Lt. Richard E. Cole, the last crewmember of the Doolittle Raiders, has died. Lt. Richard E. Cole, known as Dick Cole, was co-pilot on the lead plane, piloted by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, during a bombing mission on Tokyo in April 1942.
Sixteen B-25 bombers of the U.S. Army Air Corps launched from the USS Hornet aircraft carrier on 18 April 1942, on a mission to bomb Tokyo, in an attack that became known as the “Doolittle Raid.”
The New York Times reports: “Richard E. Cole, who was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead plane of a storied mission in the history of American air power, the bombing raid on Japan in retaliation for its attack on Pearl Harbor months earlier, died on Tuesday in San Antonio. He was 103 and the last survivor of the 80 Doolittle raiders, who carried out America’s first strikes against the Japanese homeland in World War II.”
Lt. Richard E. Cole, co-pilot, is pictured second from the right in this photo. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force.
Students in HIST 384 History of War since 1500 at Northern Illinois University will be interested in this story, having read John Dower’s War Without Mercy, while studying the Pacific War this semester.
For context on the Doolittle Raid and the Pacific War, see:
Gunter Bischof and Robert L. Dupont, eds., The Pacific War Revisited (Baton Rouge, LA, 1997).
John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York, NY:
Pantheon Books, 1986).
Richard B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (1999).
Ronald Spector, Eagle Against The Sun: The American War With Japan (1985).
The New York Times has published an obituary on Dick Cole. CNN also reports on Dick Cole’s death.
Truly the Greatest Generation.