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Doolittle Raider visits Goodfellow
U.S. Air Force Col. Mark Damiano, 17th Training Wing commander, gives opening remarks to the crowd on the accomplishments of retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, Doolittle Raider, at the Goodfellow Air Force base theater March 26, 2013. Team Goodfellow and San Angelo community members filled the theater to max capacity to get the opportunity to hear and meet the story of this legend. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Michael Smith)
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Living legend imparts raid experiences on Goodfellow

Posted 3/29/2013   Updated 3/29/2013 Email story   Print story


by 1st Lt. Leanne Hedgepeth
17th Training Wing Public Affairs

3/29/2013 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Team Goodfellow members and downtown guests filed into the base theater, March 26, anticipating the arrival of Doolittle Raider, retired Army Air Force Lt Col. Richard Cole.

17th Training Wing Commander, Col. Mark Damiano was the host for the afternoon. He opened the floor with a brief history of the Doolittle Raid then presented a historical video of the raid.

Throughout his career, Cole was involved in more than 500 combat hours and 250 combat missions.

In 1942, Cole was asked to volunteer for a top secret mission. According to Damiano, Cole received the request in a very modest manner.

The mission entailed travelling to the Pacific to drop bombs on Tokyo. On April 18, 1942, Cole, alongside Lt Col. Jimmy Doolittle, departed for Tokyo. The crew had to take off much sooner than planned because of escalating conflict; the aircraft fuel levels were low. They took off knowing it was likely a one way mission and would end up in the Chinese fields if they survived.

Nonetheless, the crew met the challenge with a "gung ho" attitude. "We were determined to get the job done and get the heck out," said Cole.

The early take off worked much to the crew's advantage. They became the beneficiaries of a long tail wind allowing them to make it to China after dropping bombs over Tokyo and bailing out of their aircraft.

When Cole made it to the ground, he was in enemy territory. His only hope was to find a Chinese nationalist establishment. He made a hammock out of his parachute and prepared to venture out into the country the following day.

He walked all day until he saw a building with Chinese national flags. There he was reunited with Doolittle and a few other crew members. "I felt very lucky to have met the nationals," said Cole.

Out of the 80 crew members involved in the raid, only 64 returned.

After the raid, Cole continued to fly missions. He is the recipient of three Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star and two Air Medals.

His advice to young Airmen is to pick out a training specialty and go as far as you can, keep up with the training and do your best.

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