DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) 75 years ago a crew of 80 men under the command of James Doolittle committed to a one way mission.
The goal was to bomb Tokyo and make a statement in World War two. In a special ceremony at the National Museum of the United States Air Force their bravery and sacrifice was honored.
Cameras in hand – thousands watched as 11 vintage planes flew in the sky. Remembering a mission and the men who boosted morale after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“These 80 young men who stepped forward on what turned out to be a one way mission and put service before self and showed the world there was no target that we can’t hit,” General David Goldfein Air Force Chief of Staff said.
There are 80 silver goblets engraved with the name of each man who served in the mission. Only one is right side up – symbolizing the last living Doolittle Raider. Lt Col Richard Cole is 101 and a Dayton native. He was Doolittle’s co-pilot. His daughter says her father never talked about his mission much when she was younger.
“He’s always considers himself extremely lucky he was in the right place at the right time,” says Cindy Cole Chal Daughter of Lt Col Richard Cole.
The right place – was a tree. He couldn’t tell how far the ground was so Cole stayed in the tree overnight. While much of America considered these brave men heroes of the war – many of them including Cole wanted to live a normal life.
“From my perspective all the raiders were shocked they had been treated they feel their job wasn’t any more important than any of the other World War II,” Chal said.
80 humble men who set out to do a job but instead paved the way for so many others.
“If you take a look at what that mission did and the 80 young men that stepped forward to go into harms way and do the unthinkable and prove to america we could win that war and turn the course of events there’s an amazing story to tell that we as Americans that we don’t want to forget,” Goldfein said.
Today in a private ceremony Lt Col Richard Cole turned over the goblet of Staff Sgt David Thatcher who died in 2016.