AFA Statement on the Passing of Lt Col Dick Cole

April 9, 2019

April 09, 2019

AFA Statement on the Passing of Lt Col Dick Cole

Lt Col Richard Cole, USAF (Ret.), passed away on April 9, 2019 at the age of 103. AFA was saddened to learn of his passing. Cole served his country with honor and patriotism throughout his life. He was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot on the famed Doolittle Raid in April 1942. He later served in the China Burma Theater and as Operations Advisor to the Venezuelan Air Force before retiring in 1966. Cole was the last surviving Doolittle Raider.

“Dick Cole’s story is the story of the Air Force itself,” said Air Force Association president Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.). While many focus on airplanes when they think about key moments in airpower history, it’s crucial to remember that the real accomplishments lie with the Airmen who put service before self and flew into harm’s way. Dick Cole was a prime example of this commitment. He chose to join the Army Air Corps on the eve of World War II, forever changed the notion of aerial power projection through the Doolittle Raid, and then led the way as a pilot in the world’s first major air mobility operation flying missions over “the Hump.” In the intensity of WWII combat operations he never wavered in his leadership and also pioneered what was to become Air Force Special Operations in the First Air Commandos, and subsequently served with distinction in the post-war years. Up until the very last, he served as an ambassador for airpower at events around the world. America’s Air Force is better for the service of Dick Cole and all of us who knew him are sad to lose a tremendous friend and role model.”

AFA thanks Lt Col Cole for his lifetime of service to our Air Force and our nation.