Memorial flyover held for last WWII Doolittle Raider who died Tuesday

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist, Rob Garza - Photojournalist, Joe Herrera - Photojournalist

KENDALL COUNTY, Texas - Friends, family and members of the Kendall County Community on Sunday gathered at the Waring Volunteer Fire Department to remember the last of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who died Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole was the last of the group, which was led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle. Cole died Tuesday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, days before the anniversary of the historic U.S. attack on Japan.

Cole's daughter, Cindy Cole Chal, said Sunday that her father never considered himself a hero and stayed in the public eye only to keep Doolittle's legacy alive.

"He was just happy that he could do something for his country when they needed him," Chal said. "He didn't think that (soldiers) should be given medals for something they should want to do."

Described by many as a humble man, Chal said her father wouldn't mind all the attention he received Sunday "because it keeps Doolittle's name out there."

Cole, who died at the age of 103, was described by Kevin Klaerner, a community sergeant with the Kendall County Sheriff's Office, as someone who always made time for others.

"No matter how busy his day was, he'd always find time to stop and talk to you," Klaerner said. 

Klaerner and Chal said they weren't surprised by the massive turnout for Cole's celebration of life on Sunday.

Historic aircraft from across the country participated in a flyover in Waring to commemorate Cole, who was Doolittle’s co-pilot during the surprise attack on Japanese Home Islands on April 18, 1942.

On Thursday, another memorial will be held at Hangar 41 at Joint Base San Antonio - Randolph to commemorate Cole, as well as the anniversary of the mission.

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