WASHINGTON, D.C. — With bipartisan legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders passing both House and Senate, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – the original author of the Senate-passed legislation – called on President Barack Obama to take immediate action and sign the legislation. Later today in room S. 120 of the U.S. Capitol Building, Brown will meet with one of the four living Doolittle Raiders, Ohio native Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Cole. The meeting will be open to the media.
Lt. Col. Cole served as copilot for Lt. Col. James Doolittle during his heroic flight over Japan during the Second World War. Lt. Col. Cole is in Washington this week for the anticipated passage of bipartisan legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
“The bravery of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders exemplifies our nation’s highest ideals and values,” Brown said. “Since 1776, Americans of all walks of life have been honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. Today, the Raiders are one step closer to receiving this fitting honor. I urge President Obama to take immediate action to sign this legislation and honor the remaining Raiders for their heroism.”
Brown led the effort with Sen. John Boozman (R-AK) to obtain 78 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, nine more than the 67 necessary for consideration by the full Senate. The legislation followed a Senate Resolution introduced by Brown in 2012 honoring the 70th Anniversary of the mission.
In the first offensive action by the U.S. military following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 80 men—who became known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders—volunteered for an for an “extremely hazardous mission” without knowing the target, location, or assignment. The Raiders—led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle—launched their B-25 Mitchell Bombers 650 miles from their target. After hitting their military and industrial targets in Tokyo and five other cities, they were low on fuel and facing deteriorating weather. As a result, all 16 airplanes were forced to crash-land in China or Russia.
Of the eight Raiders who were captured, three were executed, one died of disease, and four returned home. Their mission traveled an average distance of 2,250 nautical miles over a period of 13 hours, making it the longest combat mission ever flown in a B–25 Mitchell bomber. On February 26, 2013 the evening Brown introduced the Senate legislation, the fifth surviving crew member, Major Tom Griffin a Cincinnati-native, passed away. Major Griffin was the Navigator on Plane #9. The Congressional Gold Medal will be awarded to the Doolittle Raiders as a group and it will be held at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton along with the Doolittle Tokyo Raider’s goblets that are currently on display.
In November 2013, three of the four remaining Raiders celebrated their final reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The meeting marked the last planned gathering of the living Raiders and was celebrated by the opening of an 1896 bottle of Hennessy cognac, originally given to Jimmy Doolittle on his 60th birthday. The celebration further emphasized the need to pass this legislation to honor heroism and courage of the Raiders.
Lt. Col. Cole served as copilot for Lt. Col. James Doolittle during his heroic flight over Japan during the Second World War. Lt Col. Cole was born on September 7, 1915, in Dayton, OH, graduated from Steele High School in Dayton, and completed two years of college at Ohio University. He previously worked on a farm in Shelby County and at the National Cash Register Company in Dayton before enlisting in the Army on November 22, 1940. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in July 1941. He remained in China-Burma-Indian until June 1943. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1943, Lt. Col. Cole volunteered for the First Air Commando Group, participated in the aerial invasion of Burma, and flew missions in support of General Wingate and the commando ground forces.
Since 1776, a diverse group of individuals has been honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, including Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, George Washington, Robert Frost, Joe Louis, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Congressional Gold Medals have also been awarded to Neil A. Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon; Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.; Michael Collins; and John Herschel Glenn, Jr.