Dayton native never thought he’d be only living Doolittle Raider

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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The remaining Doolittle Raider

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The daughter of the sole surviving Doolittle Raider said he did not expect to be the last among 80 of the fabled World War II airmen.

Cindy Chal, daughter of Dayton native and retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, also said she and her father plan to attend funeral services Monday in Montana for fellow Doolittle Raider David J. Thatcher, who died at age 94 Wednesday.

Chal had to break the “very hard” news of Thatcher’s passing to Cole.

“It’s been rough,“ she said Friday.

“I think it’s really going to hit him when we get up to Missoula,” said Chal, of Comfort, Texas. “I can tell we’ve got nice sunny days down here. It’s like a dark cloud hanging over you.”

Cole was co-pilot to Jimmy Doolittle aboard a B-25 Mitchell bomber, the first of 16 to take off the USS Hornet carrier deck and strike Japan in an American raid against Tokyo and other cities on April 18, 1942 in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor four months earlier.

>>>Watch video, learn more about Richard Cole

Thatcher was a B-25 tail gunner-engineer in one of the bombers. Cole and Thatcher were last together at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in April 2015 to present the Doolittle Raiders Congressional Gold Medal to the museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Char said Cole will travel to the museum for the 75th anniversary of the raid in April to turn over one of the two silver goblets that remain standing upright among 80. Each represents one of the airmen on the raid. When one dies, tradition calls for a surviving Doolittle Raider to turn the goblet upside down.

“If Dad’s in decent health, he’ll be up there to turn over the goblet,” said Char, 71.

Being the last surviving Doolittle Raider has its own pressures, she said. “It bothers me because it’s a weight on him,” she said.

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