One of a Kind!
Most know him as the last remaining Doolittle Raider, we’re very fortunate to call him friend. A week before Osh, Sharon was talking to our good friend Matt and that was the start of what turned into two magical days. Lt Col Dick Cole was going to Osh and we were hoping to say hi as our paths have passed many times in the past and we have stayed in touch. We were also hoping to have Dick do a short interview for our documentary Normandy Bound because he flew C-47s over The Hump after the Doolittle Raid (you want his book Dick Cole’s War). As you can see above, our plan of a short visit turned into a whole lot more!
Matt, Ezra, Cindy (Dick’s daughter), Sharon & I “did” Osh together for two days which was such a hoot. The stories he can tell! Dick is such a cut up with a great sense of humor and his story of being checked out in the C-47 is brilliant! We had many conversations even a bunch on camera. One of my favorite stories I want to share came from dinner. Being the “last” Doolittle Raider, Dick is always sought and when found, has a crowd that to me can be relentless. He takes it all in stride. We found a quiet place to dine off-site and enjoyed a dinner of stories and laughs. Dick got a bowl of ice cream, the rest of us passed on dessert. Then I watched as he grabbed a small plate that was left from the appetizers. He carefully took some of the ice cream from his bowl and put it on his plate. And then with that Dick smile and a twinkle in his eye, pushed the plate to me and said, “you can’t say no.”
One of Dick’s appearances was at the EAA Museum. It was packed! It was packed an hour before he arrived. Dick will be 103 in a month and as you might imagine, one just doesn’t move like greased lightning like they use to at that age. And from past experience, Matt & crew knew that even with the public’s best intentions, they can quickly overwhelm him so after the presentation he was “whisked” out a predetermined path to a waiting car. Since Dick said he wanted us to all go get a beer, we were on a mission. There was a boy, perhaps twelve or thirteen who had created his own book about Dick’s life. It was quite the biography. This was the first time the boy had seen what was most definitely his hero in person. Dick was safely in the car and the last of the “nice” public was cleared out when this boy came to his attention. He heard his story and Dick being Dick, took time (signing his name takes time) to sign the boy’s biography he created and have his picture taken with the boy.
I’ve said many times that Osh, EAA AirVenture, is all about the people and our marvelous time with Dick illustrates the point better than another experience I can relate. Matt, Ezra, Cindy and especially Dick made it one Osh that Sharon & I will never forget! Folks call Dick living history, a hero, the last remaining Doolittle Raider and much more, which is all true. We are very fortunate to simply call him Dick. No matter how you refer to this amazing human being, he is one of a kind! Thanks, Dick!!!