The Last Raider – Lt Col RE Cole – Warbird Radio LIVE! – Episode 624

WARBIRD RADIO – Seventy-five years ago on April 18th eight brave men launched from the USS Hornet on a mission that would forever leave a mark on history.  Tonight we’ll hear from the last surviving member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders – Lt. Col. RE Cole about his experiences on the mission.  Lt. Col. Cole flew as Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot and his story is one you don’t want to miss.

We’ll also check in with Larry Kelley who flew today’s memorial flight over the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  As always your calls and comments are welcomed.

QUICK LINK:  Doolittle Raiders Scholarship Fund

STUDIO LINE:  478-787-4768

Doolittle Raider Addresses Airmen At Barksdale Air Force Base

Doolittle Raider visitWARBIRD RADIO – The United States Air Force is often celebrated for its use of technology and reliance on hardware, a Doolittle Raider’s visit to Barksdale Air Force Base Dec. 30, 2013, re-enforced  the service’s true strength stems from well-trained, innovative Airmen working jointly.

According to a recent news release retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, who served as then-Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s copilot during the April 1942 raid on Tokyo, spent the day meeting and sharing anecdotes with Airmen across Barksdale AFB.

Throughout his visit, the soft-spoken 98-year-old projected humility as he recounted his role in the historic mission that provided a morale boost to the American public after the Japanese bombardment of Pearl Harbor, and continually emphasized that its success was due to the training and professionalism of the volunteer aircrews.

When asked by one Airman if he was nervous prior to the mission, which involved launching B-25 bombers from the deck of the Navy’s USS Hornet, Cole said, “I was not worried about taking off at such a short distance. One reason was that we had a good training experience, the other thing is that I was flying with one of the best copilots in the world.”

Cole’s training prior to the mission included more than 60 hours of instruction at Eglin airfield in Florida, part of which was spent with a Navy pilot sent from Pensacola, Fla. to teach the aircrew how to accomplish a short carrier takeoff.

“We had 498 feet to do this on a carrier,” Cole said. “With that training we were able to go up to 31,000 pounds on the aircraft that we would be using.”

The aircrews also received training in celestial and sea-based navigation and low-altitude flying.

Ultimately, all of these skills would be employed by the crews during their mission, which explains why, when asked what advice he has for Airmen today, Cole said, “Get as much training as you can. Take advantage of it when the opportunity presents itself.”

Cole’s message was not lost on the  Airmen here, many of whom lined up to shake his hand, take a picture or receive an autograph.

“To be able to meet Cole is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Capt. Garrett Houk, a weapons and tactics officer with the 96th Bomb Squadron, “The fact that, as a 26-year-old, he volunteered for a mission like that is amazing.”

This type of fanfare is seemingly lost on Cole.

“I never thought about how important our mission is and was to the Air Force and its history,” Cole said. “I was just happy to be able to do my job and be a member of this Air Force.”

As he looked across at the dozens of Airmen assembled to meet him, Cole added, “I feel that the Doolittle Raid still has meaning for us today. If there is a time that comes up in the future that some country wants to upset our form of government, independence and freedom, then we will be able to do something similar to prove our strength.”

QUICK LINK: Doolittle Tokyo Raiders

USAF Photo From News Release – Air Force/Staff Sgt. Sean Martin

The Legacy Lives On – 34th Bomb Squadron Presents Patch To Honor Doolittle Tokyo Raiders

NewMeetsOld1WARBIRD RADIO – It was a special moment when members of the 34th Bomb Squadron presented Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole (RET) and the other surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders their current “active duty” patch flown in combat.  The event took place April 19th 2013 during the Doolittle Tokyo Raider’s last public reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

The 34th Bomb Squadron currently operates B-1 “Lancers” and is recognized as one of the oldest squadrons in the United States Air Force.  Along side sister squadrons, the 37th and 95th Bomb Squadron the 34th contributed aircrews for the Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942.  In this historic snapshot the new meets the old and the proud legacy of the 34th Thunderbirds continues.

QUICK LINK:  34th Bomb Squadron

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