Meeting a Hero

This isn’t necessarily work-related, but I wanted to share it regardless. We use the word “hero” a lot, but I was honored to meet someone whose claim to that word is beyond debate.

ColeThis is Col. Richard Cole, who was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot during the famous “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” raid of 1942. To get America a much-needed victory and reset Japanese strategic calculations after Pearl Harbor, the “Doolittle Raiders” launched bombers that had never before flown from an aircraft carrier on a mission where they had no real expectation of landing at an actual airfield. (Cole’s crew bailed out over China when they ran out of fuel.) They bombed military targets in Tokyo, doing minor physical damage but sending shockwaves through the entire Japanese military and delivering notice that America wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

At 102 years old, Col. Cole is the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders.

I met him because this past weekend, my family and I were honored to be guests at the 93d Bomb Squadron’s centennial celebration, which included a change-of-command ceremony. My grandfather Charles R. d’Olive was a member of the 93d in World War I, when it was a “pursuit squadron” (we call them “fighter squadrons” now), and scored the first victory in the 93d’s history. Today, the 93d is a USAF Reserve B-52 squadron based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

The men and women of the 93d continue to serve in the best tradition of Col. Cole, my grandfather and their brothers in arms. Their legacies are in good hands.

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