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Tigers honor Doolittle Raider

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, builds a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 23, 2015. The gift was made for retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, and included multiple squadron patches from Ellsworth, a photo of a 37th Bomb Squadron aircrew, bomb pins, a flag and a certificate showing authenticity from a combat mission flown on Cole’s 100th birthday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, builds a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 23, 2015. The gift was made for retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, and included multiple squadron patches from Ellsworth, a photo of a 37th Bomb Squadron aircrew, bomb pins, a flag and a certificate showing authenticity from a combat mission flown on Cole’s 100th birthday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, measures the height of a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 23, 2015. The box contains items flown by the 37th Bomb Squadron during missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on the 100th birthday of retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, measures the height of a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 23, 2015. The box contains items flown by the 37th Bomb Squadron during missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on the 100th birthday of retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, puts the finishing touches on a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2015. The box included an American flag, among other items, was presented to retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, as a way to express Ellsworth’s gratitude and appreciation to him and all Tokyo Raiders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, puts the finishing touches on a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2015. The box included an American flag, among other items, was presented to retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, as a way to express Ellsworth’s gratitude and appreciation to him and all Tokyo Raiders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, places the backing on a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2015. The shadowbox was presented to retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, by Col. John Martin, 28th Operations Group commander, during his visit to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Joe Altergott, 28th Force Support Squadron visual information specialist, places the backing on a shadowbox at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2015. The shadowbox was presented to retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, by Col. John Martin, 28th Operations Group commander, during his visit to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

A shadowbox was constructed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2015, to be presented to retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, Nov. 5 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. The box holds memorabilia from Ellsworth, along with a flag that was flown during a combat mission on Cole’s 100th birthday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

A shadowbox was constructed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2015, to be presented to retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, Nov. 5 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. The box holds memorabilia from Ellsworth, along with a flag that was flown during a combat mission on Cole’s 100th birthday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

The 28th Operations Group received nine challenge coins from retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, to thank the Airmen who flew a flag during a combat mission on his 100th birthday Sept. 7, 2015. The 37th Bomb Squadron honored Cole’s actions as a Doolittle Raider and strives to emulate the Raider’s legacy of dedication, sacrifice and boldness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

The 28th Operations Group received nine challenge coins from retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, to thank the Airmen who flew a flag during a combat mission on his 100th birthday Sept. 7, 2015. The 37th Bomb Squadron honored Cole’s actions as a Doolittle Raider and strives to emulate the Raider’s legacy of dedication, sacrifice and boldness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, answers questions in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. The Doolittle Raid was designed to bolster American morale and provide the U.S. an opportunity to retaliate against Japan after their attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, answers questions in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. The Doolittle Raid was designed to bolster American morale and provide the U.S. an opportunity to retaliate against Japan after their attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, left, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, accepts a shadowbox from Col. John Martin, right, 28th Operations Group commander, at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. The shadowbox was given to Cole in honor of his 100th birthday and for his role as a B-25 co-pilot during the initial U.S. raid on mainland Japan during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, left, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, accepts a shadowbox from Col. John Martin, right, 28th Operations Group commander, at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. The shadowbox was given to Cole in honor of his 100th birthday and for his role as a B-25 co-pilot during the initial U.S. raid on mainland Japan during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, admires a shadowbox presented to him at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. Cole was the co-pilot of the first B-25 to launch off the deck of the USS Hornet with Lt. Col. James Doolittle during the Doolittle Raid in 1942. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, one of two surviving Doolittle Raiders, admires a shadowbox presented to him at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 5, 2015. Cole was the co-pilot of the first B-25 to launch off the deck of the USS Hornet with Lt. Col. James Doolittle during the Doolittle Raid in 1942. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- On Sept. 7, B-1 aircrews from the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron patrolled the skies over Southwest Asia in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel.

While the intent was to put bombs on target, there was a special twist to the sortie: the aircrew was carrying an American flag to be presented to one of the pioneers of strategic bombing - retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole.

"The 37th [Expeditionary Bomb Squadron] executes combat operations 24/7 within [Southwest Asia]," said Lt. Col. Joseph , 37th EBS commander. "When we realized Cole was celebrating his 100th birthday, we wanted to express our gratitude and appreciation to him and all the Tokyo Raiders for their example and legacy."

That legacy began April 18, 1942 when Lt. Col. James Doolittle led the Doolittle Raid designed to bolster American morale and provide the U.S. an opportunity to retaliate against Japan. Cole, the co-pilot of the first B-25 to launch off the deck of the USS Hornet, was one of 80 aviators who flew 16 aircraft during the raid.

"The Doolittle Raid was this nation's first return salvo against Japan after Pearl Harbor," said Col. John Martin, 28th Operations Group commander. "Over time, Japan began to perceive their island nation was quite simply an impenetrable fortress. Jimmy Doolittle set out to find and train a group of men, now known as the Doolittle Raiders, to prove otherwise."

On Sept. 7, the B-1 aircrews flew four missions, employing weapons against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targets.

The Tigers, as the squadron is nicknamed, saved two of the bomb pins from the munitions employed as the finishing touches on the colonel's special gift, and returned them to Ellsworth a few weeks later. A shadowbox, which included the flag, pins and current squadron patches, was then constructed to be presented to Cole.

"It's an honor to be able to take the time to put in the details required to honor this veteran, especially a Doolittle Raider," said 1st Lt. Travis Adams, 37th BS pilot. "For me, being in charge of [putting the box together] and reading the history was absolutely amazing and eye opening. I hope Cole enjoys the box because we really liked putting it together for him." 

Initially, the gift was to be presented to Cole at his home. However, the Raider is visiting Washington, D.C., Nov. 3 through 9 and Martin had the privilege of presenting the shadowbox to Cole during a ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes Nov. 5.

Today, Ellsworth continues to honor the Raider legacy and has the distinct privilege of being home to Doolittle's 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons, Martin added.

"The 28th OG is home to two of the four squadrons that participated in the raid," Martin said. "More than 70 years later, our Raider heritage clearly defines, motivates and compels us to tackle today's modern threats, such as ISIS."

Adams added the 37th BS "Tigers" appreciate their Raider heritage and strives to go into every mission with the same dedication and purpose.

"These Raiders flew into Japan with their B-25s, not knowing whether they were coming home," Adams said. "They sent a message to the world about America's air power, that we can strike any target, anywhere. It's such an honor for the 37th to be able to do this for them."