All 16 of the heavily laden bombers got off deck and reached their target. But not all of the men who took off from the Hornet made it home. Three died failing to reach a landing on the China coast. Of the eight captured by the Japanese in China, three were executed and one died of starvation and mistreatment as a POW. Eighty men flew the secret mission; 61 survived the war. One of those 61 raiders who made it home from war was Lt. Richard Cole.
Defense One - April 18, 2022
"In 1946, they held their first reunion, sharing a bottle of 1896 Hennessy VS Cognac in honor of the birth year of mission leader Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle.
Every Doolittle Raider had a silver goblet engraved with his name.
At the annual reunions that followed, survivors would raise a toast of Hennessy to Raiders who’d passed the year before, and then turn those Raiders’ goblets upside-down in their velvet-lined case.
Today, the final goblet was turned.
“To those who have gone,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said, drink raised as the children of Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last Doolittle Raider, took out their father’s goblet, turned it over, and placed it for the last time in its plush blue casing.
It was the centerpiece of a ceremony in which Air Force leaders and generations of Raider family members said a final goodbye to all 80 of the crew....."
I for one have never believed in coincidence. So I must note that not only was the last surviving Doolittle Raider the 103 year old Lt. Col. Dick Cole, he was Doolittle's co-pilot of the lead aircraft on the target. And as the first plane off the Hornet, they had the danger of the least amount of runway. 75 years later, Cole gave the last Raider toast for the group in 2017, when he became the group’s surviving member. It was Cole himself who built the wood and velvet-lined case that for 76 years have held each of his brother Raider's engraved goblets.
When former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced at an Air Force Association conference that the nation’s future stealth bomber would carry the "B-21 Raider" name, the 100 year old Lt. Col. Cole was in attendance.
~ Thank You Larwyn's Linx@ Doug Ross Journal for the Linkage! ~