The sole surviving pilot from the 1942 Doolittle Raid – the first U.S. strike against Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor – has presented a World War II museum with a Congressional Gold Medal.
WCCO reports that Lt. Col. Dick Cole, 100, of Comfort, Texas, presented the medal Thursday to the Fagen Fighters World War II Museum in Granite Falls, Minnesota. In May 2014, the medals were awarded to the 80 airmen who participated in the raid.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Cole, a native of Dayton, Ohio, was Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot aboard a B-25 Mitchell bomber, the first of 16 to take off the USS Hornet carrier deck and strike Japan in the April 18, 1942, raid against Tokyo and other cities. Doolittle was the commander of that raid.
At Thursday's ceremony in Minnesota, Cole recalled the moment he and the other airmen learned that the raid would target Tokyo.
"The public address system came on and said, 'This force is bound for Tokyo,'" he said, according to WCCO. "There was a lot of jubilation right off the bat."
After they bombed Tokyo, most of the B-25s crashed in China after running out of fuel. Cole had to parachute from his aircraft to survive.
The mission boosted morale and is often described as a turning point of the war.
"I felt pretty good about it," Cole said.
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