The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Air Force Special Warfare Command, hosted the final Doolittle Raiders Goblet Ceremony at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, Fla. on 18 April 2022.
The ceremony marked the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid and also served to honor the legacy of Colonel (Retired) Dick Cole, the last Raider to pass away on April 9, 2019.
The Doolittle Raid was an April 18, 1942 air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital of Tokyo to boost American morale and demonstrate Japan’s vulnerability to air attack after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall III; Air Force Chief of Staff, General CQ Brown, Jr.; Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; and Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, Commander Air, Education and Training Command, all participated in the historic ceremony attended by nearly 1,300 Airmen, community members and elected officials.
“I can’t tell you how privileged and honored I am to be here for such a special occasion,” Kendall said. “The Raiders led the way, and many followed. Over the past 75 years, we see that the selfless spirit with which the Raiders flew has been passed down from generation to generation and lives on in our air and space forces today.
“Like many of the greatest generation, they saw it as their duty and accepted it without any regrets.
During the ceremony, 16 local and active duty veterans were honored to represent the legacy of each Doolittle aircrew and the contributions of countless fellow Airmen to recognize the Air Force’s 75th anniversary .
“For many years, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and many retirees have called the greater Fort Walton Beach area home,” said Ted Corcoran, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. of the Great FWB. “During this time, our local military community participated in combat operations around the world. So today, in honor of the Air Force’s 75th anniversary, we would like to recognize the significant contributions they have made to our national defence.
Brown explained how Cole and his brothers laid the foundation for what it means to serve in the United States Armed Forces.
“Jimmy Doolittle once said, ‘Nothing is as strong as the heart of a volunteer,'” Brown said. “The Doolittle Raiders are the perfect example of the strongest-hearted volunteers. I am incredibly honored to be here to pay tribute to Colonel Cole. These men volunteered to fly off the deck of an aircraft carrier from the Navy into the unknown, never knowing if they would see their loved ones again.
Colonel Cole’s son, Lt. Col. (Retired) Richard Cole, and his daughter, Mrs. Cindy Cole-Chal, performed the ritual of turning over their father’s goblet – the last goblet to be turned over.
“On behalf of the Cole family and all of the Raider families, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your love and support over the years,” Cole said. “Thank you for always taking the time to remember the Raiders and helping to fulfill the legacy of this historic mission.”
After a ceremony, an aerial review was held over Okaloosa Island and included 30 former and current US Air Force aircraft, and included a B-25 Mitchell bomber, a B-52 Stratofortress, a F-22 Raptor and an F-35. Lightning II among others.
All 80 Doolittle Raider tumblers are on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.