By TOMMY CUMMINGS
On Monday, North Texans will get a chance to celebrate with a 100-year-old war hero — and see proof that he was a hero.
Retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole will turn 100 during the Frontiers of Flight Museum’s special presentation and movie screening of Doolittle’s Raiders: A Final Toast.
Cole is one of two surviving members of the original Doolittle Raiders that bombed Japan on 1942. He was co-pilot for Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, who led 16 B-25 bombers on the mission that is considered an event that changed the nation’s morale following the Pearl Harbor attack and other early U.S. defeats at the hands of the Japanese during World War II.
Cole, a native of Dayton, Ohio, enlisted Nov. 22, 1940 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in July 1941.
He was among 80 airman who volunteered for the Raiders, whose top-secret mission was to bomb Japan. The plan was to take off from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet, bomb the targets and land in China. But the Japanese Navy detected the Hornet and the takeoff point was moved 200 miles, meaning chances of the airmen reaching China were not good.
When asked why he volunteered, Cole told the Air Force Times, “Well, the country’s at war and that’s my job.”
After bombing Tokyo, Cole’s B-25 caught a tailwind, which helped the crew make it to China. Cole was rescued and Chinese patriots helped him and other Doolittle Raiders make it home.
“The new documentary emphasizes the Doolittle crew as individuals,” Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, CEO of the Frontiers of Flight Museum, said in a release. “It shows their courage and how their incredible, and at the time considered suicidal, mission in the early days of World War II impacted them and our country for the rest of their lives.”
The movie starts at 6:30 p.m. at the museum, 6911 Lemmon Ave. The cost is $20 and free for all veterans.
Former sportscaster Scott Murray will emcee the event.
Tim Gray, who wrote, directed and produced the Doolittle documentary, will also be on hand. Gray has produced and directed 15 documentary films on personal stories of the World War II generation. James Roberts, founder and president of the American Veterans Center, which is the originator of the Doolittle documentary project, will address the audience.
Retired Col. Carrol V. Glines, author and official historian of the Doolittle Raiders, will lead a guided conversation following the film. Glines has written 36 books and more than 750 magazine articles on aviation and military subjects. He has authored three books about the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan and is co-author of General “Jimmy” Doolittle’s autobiography, I Could Never Be So Lucky Again.
Glines also is the official historian of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and is curator for the Doolittle Library at the University of Texas at Dallas.
To learn more, visit flightmuseum.com.