It’s not every day you get to meet a war hero. Today, more than a hundred people at the Beau Rivage Casino banded together for a special event honoring two World War II survivors and heroes.
Eighty members of the historic Doolittle Raiders took off in a historic flight in April 1942, launching a surprise attack on Tokyo in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
Retired Lieutenant Colonial Dick Cole was one of those survivors on that historic air raid. He’s a highly decorated war hero, but still humble when talking about the pivotal missions he and the crew carried out during World War II. “First off, you’re scared all the time and you just get rid of that feeling and think about what’s happening at the moment because that’s when it’s most important.”
At 102-years-old, Cole is the only surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, but his memories from the missions he carried out years ago are crystal clear. “When you know you’re about to run out of gas, you are going to have to jump or accept the alternative. Everybody jumps.”
Retired PFC Bradford Freeman also jumped as a paratrooper with the group known as the Screaming Eagles on D-Day, all chronicled in the HBO hit show ‘Band of Brothers.’ “(But, you’re the real life hero. Those fireworks were real.) I know they were real. We knew we’re going into France, but we didn’t know our way out so we had to do our due.”
These are stories the two war heroes shared for Monday’s Military Appreciation Day at the Beau Rivage. On the front lines were Hope Houston and her family. They traveled all the way from Laurel for this special event. “I love history. I’ve been doing all this reading and just getting to meet them is just mind-blowing.”