Top Air Force commanders, elected officials, and civic leaders will be among the many expected to pay their last respects to Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, the final surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, at his memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas on Thursday.
The memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. local Texas time (4 p.m. Eastern time) that day, at the base’s Hangar 41, on the 77th anniversary of the audacious bomber raid on mainland Japan during World War II. Eighty U.S. Army Air Forces airmen, including Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his co-pilot Cole, flew 16 modified B-25B Mitchell bombers from an aircraft carrier to strike Japan, rallying American morale a few months after Pearl Harbor.
“Everyone wanted to go on that mission," Cole once said of the daring raid on Tokyo, which rallied America's spirit during the darkest days of World War II.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein will be among the dignitaries attending Cole’s service. Air Education and Training Command said that current and former commanders of major Air Force commands have also been invited.
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.
The ceremony will be streamed online at AirForceTimes.com.