President Trump Surprises 101 Year-Old Veteran – The Last Surviving Member of the Doolittle Raiders

President Trump Surprises 101 Year-Old Veteran – The Last Surviving Member of the Doolittle Raiders

The famed Doolittle Raid was the first ever air strike to attack the Japanese home islands. The raid not only proved that Japan could be vulnerable to air attacks, but also provided a vital morale boost to the American morale effort. Today, only one member of the Doolittle Raiders survives and Donald Trump recently called him after he became injured.

Lt. Col. Dick Cole served as co-pilot of the lead B-52 bomber, which was piloted by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, who planned and led the raid. In May, Cole suffered a broken shoulder and elbow. Trump wanted to reach out to him before the Fourth of July.

“President Donald J. Trump spoke by phone on July 2 with Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last surviving member of the famed Doolittle Raiders,” a statement released by the White House said. “The President offered his best wishes and support to this 101-year-old veteran who was recently injured. The President congratulated Lt. Col. Cole on his courage, thanked him for his service, and wished him a full recovery in advance of his upcoming 102nd birthday.”

In an interview Cole gave last year, he spoke about the raid and why it had been planned. “One was to let the Japanese people know their leaders were not being truthful by saying Japan couldn’t be bombed by air,” he explained. “The other was to give the Allies, and particularly the United States, a morale shot in the arm.”

“The damage we did wasn’t much,” he continued. “But the raid caused the Japanese to bring back forces from down around Australia and India and concentrate their power in the Central Pacific. They also transferred two carriers to Alaska, and that evened the odds with the U.S. Navy at Midway. Japanese naval forces were at a disadvantage from then on. It was a turning point in the war.”

Everyone who flew in the Doolittle Raid had volunteered for the mission, despite knowing that there would not be enough fuel for the aircrafts to return to friendly territory. Every member of the raid was given the opportunity to drop out, without suffering any repercussions, but no one took it. It was the first combat mission for all of them.

Cole and the other Raiders ended up bailing out over China and Cole said that it was because of the Chinese that they all survived. “We couldn’t have done it without their help,” Cole said. “They did everything they could to keep the Japanese from capturing our crews. But according to historians, the Japanese killed over 250,000 people.”

While Cole received the Distinguished Flying Cross, he has never considered himself to be a hero. “No, we were just doing our job, part of the big picture, and happy that what we did was helpful,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without the Navy. They risked two of their carriers and quite an armada.”

The White House statement concluded with another message to the military, saying, “President Trump appreciates the service and sacrifice of all veterans as we celebrate Independence Day.”

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