Retired LtCol Richard “Dick” Cole, the co-pilot to Jimmy Doolittle and last surviving member of the raid, died yesterday at the age of 103.
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The Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives has a display for chaplains from World War I and II, including a Bible given to a sailor on the USS Hornet two days before the carrier launched Doolittle’s Raid:
RICH Read more
After his military career, Thatcher worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years as a clerk and later a letter carrier. He retired in 1980. He stayed in contact with the surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders and attended nearly every reunion the group held through the Final Toast in November 2013.
Retired LtCol Richard “Dick” Cole, Doolittle’s co-pilot, is the last Read more
LtCol Robert Hite, one of the last three living Doolittle Raiders, died Sunday at the age of 95. Hite was a POW of the Japanese after the raid for the remainder of the war, until his camp was liberated three years later in 1945.
With his death, Read more
A collection of links, information, and the video from the final ceremony can be seen on the official Air Force site here.
The Air Force has announced that the November 9th final toast of the Doolittle Raiders — an event closed to the public — will be broadcast live on the Pentagon channel.
The remaining Raiders will join for the final time and open the ceremonial bottle of cognac from 1896, the year Jimmy Doolittle was born.
The event is occurring at the National Museum of the Air Force and will include B-25 flybys, a wreath laying, related movies and a book signing.
Today, just four of the men survive: Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, co-pilot of crew No. 1; Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, co-pilot of crew No. 16; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, engineer-gunner of crew No. 15; and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, engineer-gunner of crew No. 7…
Each year, the remaining Raiders have toasted their comrades and turned over the goblets of those who passed away the prior year. The original plan had been for the final two to open a celebratory bottle of cognac in a last gathering. Due to age and health concerns, they decided to make this their final year.
B-25 navigator Maj Thomas Griffin died in a VA nursing home last week. While most such deaths would be noted by surviving family members, Griffin’s was noted by how many Doolittle Raiders he leaves behind: only 4.
As noted previously (and clarified by Doolittle Raider Association manager Tom Casey), the final public Doolittle reunion will be this year. The remaining Raiders will gather at another location privately and open the bottle of cognac reserved for the final survivors.