Two of the surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders visited the National Naval Aviation Museum on Sunday afternoon, April 21. The Raiders held their 71st and final reunion this week in Fort Walton Beach.
Lt Col Richard E. Cole (Co-pilot, Crew #1)
Cole was co-pilot to Lt Col Jimmy Doolittle on the legendary Doolittle Tokyo Raid on Japan, Apr. 18, 1942. He bailed out over China at night during a rainstorm after his plane ran out of fuel. The Chinese rescued him and several other Raiders. Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal. Lieutenant Colonel Cole retired from the United States Air Force in 1967 after 27 years of distinguished military service.
SSgt David Thatcher (Engineer/Gunner, Crew #7)
Thatcher participated in the Tokyo Raid and served in England and Africa until January, 1944. Actor Robert Walker depicted SSgt Thatcher in the movie “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.” Decorations include Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on April 18, 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese during World War II. By demonstrating that Japan was vulnerable to American attack, the raid provided a vital moral boost and opportunity for U.S. retaliation after Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The raid was planned and led by Lt Col James “Jimmy” Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces.