Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, the final surviving member of the storied Doolittle Raiders who died Tuesday at 103, will be remembered in a memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas on April 18.
The memorial service will take place exactly 77 years to the day after the daring B-25 bomber raid on mainland Japan, Air Education and Training Command at Randolph said in a release Friday.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein will be among the dignitaries attending Cole’s service, Air Force spokeswoman Master Sgt. Brandy Stocker said. Other senior leaders from the Air Force, family and friends will also attend, AETC said. The service will be held in Hangar 41 on the base, and will begin at 3 p.m.
AETC said hundreds of airmen will line the main entrance at Randolph to salute the Cole family as they enter the base. The service will also include a fly-by, a missing man formation, and the display of several static aircraft.
Cole was then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead bomber on the April 18, 1942, mission to strike Japan, a little more than four months after Pearl Harbor. Eighty U.S. Army Air Forces airmen launched 16 modified B-25B Mitchell bombers from the aircraft carrier Hornet. Their raid caused only minor damage, but boosted morale on the home front considerably, and sent Japan a message that the United States was ready to fight back.
Cole will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.