Last living Doolittle Raider coming to Air Force museum for ceremony

A Dayton native who is the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders will mark the 75th anniversary of the first U.S. raid against Japan in ceremony at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Richard E. Cole, who is 101 years old, was the co-pilot to then Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle on the famous bombing run when 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers flew off the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942 headed toward Japan.

Several World War II-era B-25 bombers were set to fly over the museum during the April 17-18 anniversary events, according to the museum.

Cole, who lives in Texas, will pay tribute to fellow Raider David Thatcher, of Montana, who died earlier this year. Organizers continue to finalize details.

Inside the museum, 80 silver goblets — each representing one of the Army airmen on the raid — are turned upside down in a display case when a crew member dies.

Cole was last at the museum in April for the film premiere of “Dick Cole — 100 Years a Hero,” a tribute to the World War II aviator’s life.

In 2015, a Congressional Gold Medal was put on permanent display at the museum in honor of the Raiders.

Every year since the end of World War II, with one exception, the Raiders reunited to remember the historic raid, the first against Japan since the Imperial Navy bombed U.S. warships and military bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, ushering the United States into the global conflict.

Five of those reunions occurred at the Air Force museum, the last of which was the final toast in November 2013.

The museum, which added a new, giant display hangar filled with historic planes, rockets and spacecraft this summer, attracts more than one million visitors a year.

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