May 7, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 75 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
REMEMBERING LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICHARD ``DICK'' COLE; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 75
(Senate - May 07, 2019)
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[Pages S2681-S2682] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] REMEMBERING LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICHARD ``DICK'' COLE Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, today I wish to honor Lieutenant Colonel Richard ``Dick'' Cole, of the United States Air Force, who was the last living link of the Doolittle Raiders and passed away on April 9 at the age of 103. The Doolittle Raiders were comprised of 80 heroic U.S. Army Air Forces airmen who flew 16 modified B-25 Mitchell bombers off the USS Hornet aircraft carrier on the first Allied retaliatory strike on the Japanese Home Islands, just a few months after Pearl Harbor. In an age before midair refueling and GPS, the USS Hornet weighed less than a quarter of today's fortress-like aircraft carriers. With then-Lt. Cole as the copilot to then-Lt. Col. Jimmy [[Page S2682]] Doolittle, the B-25 Mitchell bomber #40-2344, would take off with only 467 feet of takeoff distance. This audacious and unprecedented raid was a one-way mission against enormous odds. What made the mission all the more challenging was a sighting by a Japanese patrol boat that prompted the task force commander, U.S. Navy Adm. William Halsey, to launch the mission more than 650 nautical miles from Japan, 10 hours early and 170 nautical miles farther than originally planned. Flying at wavetop level around 200 feet with their radios turned off, Cole and the Raiders avoided detection for as much of the distance as possible. In groups of two to four aircraft, the bombers targeted dry docks, armories, oil refineries, and aircraft factories in Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe, as well as Tokyo itself. The Japanese air defenses were so caught off guard by the Raiders that little anti-aircraft fire was volleyed and only one Japanese Zero followed in pursuit. With their bombs delivered, the Raiders flew towards safety in nonoccupied China, but had to bail out when their aircraft ran out of fuel. The bombing mission sent a message that America was ready to fight back, and bolstered spirits on the home front. Lt. Col. Cole remained in the China-Burma-India Theater flying combat and transport missions from May 1942 to June 1943, followed by service with the 5th Fighter Group in Tulsa, OK, from June to October 1943. He retired from the Air Force on December 31, 1966, as a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours in 30 different aircraft, amassing more than 250 combat missions and more than 500 combat hours. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oakleaf clusters; Air Medal with oakleaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; and Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, First Grade. All Doolittle Raiders were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in May 2014. In his final years, Lt. Col. Cole remained a familiar face at Air Force events in the San Antonio area and toured Air Force schoolhouses and installations to promote the spirit of service among new generations of airmen. On September 19, 2016, Lt. Col. Cole was present during the naming ceremony for the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider, named in honor of the Doolittle Raiders. While he may have slipped the surly bonds of earth to reunite with his fellow Raiders, his legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of Americans. On behalf of my colleagues in the U.S. Senate, I wish to offer our eternal thanks to Lt. Col. Cole and our condolences to his family. May we never forget the courage and honor of the Doolittle Raiders. ____________________