On Senate Floor, Brown Marks Legacy of Doolittle Tokyo Raiders as Last Raider Passes Away

Senator Led Efforts to Secure Congressional Gold Medal for Doolittle Raiders, Including Ohio Native Lt. Col. Richard Cole; Medal Currently on Display at Air Force Museum in Dayton

Doolittle Floor Speech

*Download Production-Quality Video of Brown’s Remarks HERE.*

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor tonight to mark the legacy of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders as Ohio native Lt. Col. Richard Cole, the last living Doolittle Raider, passed away today. In 2014, Brown led bipartisan legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. President Obama signed the legislation into law in 2014. Prior to the bill signing, Brown met with Lt. Col. Cole, who was born in Dayton and graduated from Steele High School. The Congressional Gold Medal is kept on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton. 

“The Doolittle Raiders came from a generation that spoke proudly of service to their country. They rarely drew attention or talked much about their own courage. They sought no recognition but oh, how they earned it. It was an honor to help award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Doolittle Raiders in Washington four years ago –a long time coming, and so deserved. And now that these men are no longer with us, it’s all the more important that we continue to tell their story,” Brown said on the Senate Floor. 

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. They 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.

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.

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 the China-Burma-India Theater 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. 

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