Doolittle Raid Pilot Dick Cole Joins Historian Dennis Okerstrom In Recalling the Birth of America's Air Commandos
May 21, 2014
Dick Cole was James "Jimmy" Doolittle's co-pilot on the history-making Doolittle Raid of Tokyo in 1942, and later was part of one of World War II's most closely guarded secret projects - an audacious, British and American plan to invade Japanese-occupied Burma, in part, with gliders.
Now 98, Cole will appear Monday, June 9, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., with Park University professor Dennis Okerstrom for a discussion of Okerstrom's new book, Project 9: The Birth of the Air Commandos in World War II,
The Air Commandos - forerunner to Special Operations teams such as SEAL Team Six and Delta Force - were a colorful group led by Philip Cochran, the model for Flip Corkin in the comic strip Terry and the Pirates. His co-commander was Johnny Alison, a former Flying Tiger and fighter ace, and their crew of glider pilots included former child movie star Jackie Coogan.
Their unorthodox tactics proved highly successful, and pushed American airpower into a new dimension, setting several U.S. military precedents. It was the first air unit designed to support a ground unit, the first to execute a heavy glider assault landing at night, and the first to employ helicopters in combat.
Okerstrom's book follows invasion of Burma from its inception at the Quebec Conference of 1943 to its successful completion, delving into the selection of the American airmen, the procurement of the aircraft, the joint training with British troops, and the dangerous nighttime assault behind Japanese lines.
Okerstrom is a professor of English at Park University and the author of four previous books including The Final Mission of Bottoms Up: A World War II Pilot's Story. A certified flight instructor, he owns and flies a restored 1942 Army scout plane.
The event is co-sponsored by Park University. Admission is free, and a 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.orgor call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.