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The Last Raider: Dick Cole Dead at Age 103
April 9, 2019 - EAA members were saddened Tuesday to hear of the death of Lt. Col. Richard Cole, the last of the famed Doolittle Raiders, at age 103. Cole's death in San Antonio, Texas, was reported by family and friends on April 9, less than two weeks before the 77th anniversary of the Raiders’ 1942 mission over Japan in the early days of World War II.
Cole was co-pilot for Jimmy Doolittle in the lead B-25 Mitchell bomber that left the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, on a one-way bombing mission that struck Japan less than six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. While the mission's results were somewhat minor strategically, it provided a huge morale boost to the American public, while alerting Japan that its homeland was subject to attack.
Cole became the final surviving member of the 80-man squad following David Thatcher's death in 2016. He was a regular attendee at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, most notably for the 75th anniversary commemoration of the raid that was held at AirVenture 2017.