When an Air Force legend celebrates their 103rd birthday, no doubt the service’s senior leader will take notice.
The last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard Cole, received a special birthday greeting from Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, Sept. 7.
“I am honored to celebrate your 103rd birthday,” Goldfein said to Cole. “It’s because of Air Force pioneers like you and your peers that the Air Force was shaped into the service it is today, and that we are able to celebrate its upcoming 71st birthday.”
Cole and the other Raiders are an example of the Air Force’s successful history of innovation and joint operations.
On April 18, 1942, then-captain Cole co-piloted then-Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle’s No. 1 bomber, and their aircraft was the first to drop bombs during the raid over Japan.
Cole is a living reminder of the warrior spirit from which the Air Force was born. His selfless service and dedication to country resulted in an active-duty career that spanned from 1940-62, Goldfein said.