#VeteranOfTheDay Army Air Corps Veteran Richard “Dick” Cole


Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Richard E. “Dick” Cole.

Four months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 80 Army Air Corps members volunteered for a top-secret mission to bomb targets in Japan. Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, the famed air racer, test pilot and aeronautical engineer, was tapped to lead the group. His co-pilot was then 26-year-old Lieutenant Richard E. “Dick” Cole.

It was a risky mission that took place on April 18, 1942. The Doolittle Raid marked the first time that bombers attempted to take off from a carrier, the USS Hornet. The planes had less than 250 feet of runway, and as the first plane to take off, Dick and Doolittle’s plane had the least amount of runway. “I was scared the entire time,” Dick said in a 2015, noting that he knew he might die but “you’d hope you wouldn’t.” Despite his apprehension, he was in awe serving as a co-pilot next to Jimmy Doolittle, “the greatest pilot in the world.”

After bombing Tokyo, Dick’s B-25 caught a tailwind that helped the crew make it to China. He was rescued by Chinese patriots who helped him and other Raiders make it home. This past September, Dick turned 101 years old. He is the last living Veteran of the Doolittle Raid.

Thank you for your service, Dick!


Melissa Heintz

– Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.


  1. Santiago Parker    

    God bless you Dick Cole,
    As one veteran to another great veteran thank you for your service Dick. And God bless America. And Army strong .
    Army Veteran

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