NICEVILLE, Fla. --
The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Air Force Special Operations Command, hosted the final Doolittle Raiders Goblet Ceremony at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, Florida, April 18, 2022.
The ceremony marked the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid and also served to honor the legacy of Col. (ret.) Dick Cole, the last Raider to pass away April 9, 2019.
The Doolittle Raid was an air raid on April 18, 1942, by the U.S. on the Japanese capital of Tokyo to boost American morale and demonstrate Japan’s vulnerability to air attacks following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall III; Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.; Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; and Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air, Education and Training Command, all participated in the historic ceremony attended by almost 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 have followed. For the past 75 years, we see that the selfless spirit that the Raiders flew with has passed from generation to generation, and still exists today in our Air and Space Forces.
“Like many of the greatest generation, they saw it as their duty and accepted it without any regret.
During the ceremony, 16 local active-duty and veterans were honored to represent the legacy of each Doolittle crew and the contributions of an untold number of fellow Airmen to recognize the 75th Anniversary of the Air Force.
“For many years, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and many retirees have called the greater Fort Walton Beach-area home,” said Ted Corcoran, president and chief executive officer of the Greater FWB Chamber of Commerce. “During that time, our local military community has participated in combat operations spanning the globe. So today, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Air Force, we would like to recognize the significant contributions they’ve made to our national defense.”
Brown spoke about 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 volunteers with the strongest of hearts. I am incredibly humbled to be here to pay tribute to Col. Cole. These men volunteered to fly off the deck of a Navy carrier, into the unknown, never knowing if they would see their loved ones again.”
Colonel Cole’s son, Lt. Col. (ret.) Richard Cole, and daughter, Ms. Cindy Cole-Chal, performed the ritual of turning over their father’s goblet – the final goblet to be turned.
“On behalf of the Cole family and all the Raider families, we want to extend our deepest appreciation to all of you for your love and support over the years,” said Cole. “Thank you for always taking the time to remember the Raiders and helping to carry out the legacy of this historic mission.”
After a ceremony, an aerial review took place over Okaloosa Island, and featured 30 vintage and current U.S. Air Force aircraft, and included a B-25 Mitchell bomber, a B-52 Stratofortress, a F-22 Raptor, and a F-35 Lightning II among others.
The 80 Doolittle Raider goblets are permanently displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.