Last survivor of Doolittle raid to visit Bradenton. Watch his historic flight
At 103 years old, retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole is the last survivor of the 80 airmen who carried out the April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan.
The public will have an opportunity to meet and have photos taken with Cole from noon to 4 p.m. April 7 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 8 at Dolphin Aviation Center, 8191 N. Tamiami Trail, at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.
Also visiting Dolphin Aviation will be a B-25J bomber, called Panchito, the type plane used in Doolittle’s retaliatory strike after the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That attack, which killed 2,403, brought the United States into World War II.
The Doolittle Raid, carried out 131 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, involved the use of 16 B-25 bombers flown by Army Air Corps crews. The B-25s, designed as land-based aircraft, were launched from the pitching deck of the USS Hornet aircraft carrier. Cole served as raid leader Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot.
Cole, from Comfort, Texas, will be in town to raise funds for the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Education Fund.
No planes or crews were lost over Japan during the attack. Fifteen planes flew on toward China where they crashed inland or near the coast. Three crew members were lost bailing out. Eight were captured by the Japanese, three were executed and one died in prison. One plane and crew landed in Russia.
Sixty-four Raiders survived the raid and fought in other campaigns. After the Tokyo raid, Cole flew transports and supplies from Burma to China over the Himalayan mountains, known to U.S. pilots as the “hump.”
The public is invited to reserve a seat and fly on the Panchito with its owner/pilot Larry Kelley. Seats are available for $425 each. For more information, call Tom Casey, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders manager, at 941-921-7361.