Lawmakers Introduce Measures to Promote Doolittle Raider, Tuskegee Airman

Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole was photographed at AFA's dedication of the Doolittle Building Brick Wall ceremony on October 25, 2018, in Arlington, Va. Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto.

Lawmakers on July 10 introduced measures to promote two Air Force legends, including retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, who was the last living Doolittle Raider before he died earlier this year.

Twin amendments to the House’s version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act—one introduced by Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), another by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas)—call on President Donald Trump to posthumously promote Cole to the rank of colonel. Cole died April 9 at age 103.

On April 18, 1942, Cole co-piloted the lead aircraft alongside Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, leading 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers on a raid into Japan as revenge for the Pearl Harbor attacks. Cole, who was then a lieutenant, was hand-picked for the mission.

While all aircraft were lost and overall damage to Japan was minimal, the famed Doolittle Raid was a massive boost to US morale following the attack in Hawaii.

Cole and his crew bailed out of their B-25 in China when it ran out of fuel 12 hours after takeoff. Their crew, aided by locals and missionaries, evaded Japanese soldiers and eventually returned to the US. Cole later served in Southeast Asia, flying cargo planes over the Himalaya mountains, and was part of the founding cadre of Air Commandos.

07102019 McGee NDAA.jpg
Retired Col. Charles McGee, who served as a USAF pilot and Tuskegee Airman, was photographed at a US Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights program in Washington, D.C., on Mar. 27, 2014. Photo: Lance Cheung/USDA

A separate amendment from Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) asks to promote retired Col. Charles McGee to brigadier general. McGee, 99, served 30 years in the Air Force, including with the “Red Tails” of the famous Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Throughout his service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, McGee flew 409 combat missions—a record, according to the National Aviation Hall of Fame—and received the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross.