The only surviving veteran of the famed World War II Doolittle raid over Japan will join other WWII heroes at the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing WWII Heritage Days April 22-23 at the CAF Dixie Wing Warbird Museum, Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field, Peachtree City. Retired Lt. Richard E. Cole, 102, served as Jimmy Doolittle’s copilot during the 1942 Doolittle Raid, as a “Hump” pilot during the China-Burma-India campaign, and finally as a C-47 pilot and Air Commando during the invasion of Burma. His wartime experiences are recounted in a book, “Dick Cole’s War.” A restored Mitchell B-25 like the one Cole flew also will be on display for the weekend.
Betty Bishop is returning to World War II Heritage Days representing the thousands of “Rosie the Riveter” women who worked the production lines in the 1940s, turning out aircraft, ships, weapons and other war materials as part of the “Arsenal of Democracy” that helped win the war. Bishop actually helped build the recently restored P-63 Kingcobra that is part of the Dixie Wing Museum collection of operating aircraft. “As the number of WWII veterans diminishes each day, we are proud to invite several of them and allow the public to get acquainted and hear their stories,” said Dixie Wing Leader Jay Bess. “Veterans and homefront workers are a key part of the purpose of WWII Heritage Days – an era of heroes that must never be forgotten.” The Veterans Administration estimates fewer than 700,000 World War II veterans survive today.
The history festival is the largest WWII and 1940s-themed event in Georgia and a unique experience for anyone who enjoys nostalgia, big-band music, swing dance, historic aircraft and military vehicles, antique cars and vintage fashion. The program features reenactors portraying Axis and Allied troops, sailors, airmen and Women Army Service Pilots (WASP).
“Keep ‘em Flying”, a hangar dance and dinner fundraiser surrounded by historic World War II aircraft and decorated to recreate the iconic mood of the 1940s, will take place from 6pm-11pm Saturday at the Dixie Wing hangar. Guests will hear the Peachtree Jazz Edition perform standards made famous by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. Also performing are the Freedom Belles, a female trio that sings 40s classics by the Andrews Sisters and other stars.
“The mission of WWII Heritage Days is to celebrate the 1940s, salute The Greatest Generation and inspire all ages to preserve the legacy of America’s veterans,” said Bess. “The event brings hundreds of participants and guests to the area from throughout the southeast.”
Proceeds from the dance help cover costs associated with WWII Heritage Days, as well as the ongoing preservation of the group’s historic aircraft. Advance tickets for “Keep ‘em Flying” are $55 before April 17 and $65 after. Reserved tables and group discounts are available. Black tie, uniforms or 1940s attire encouraged. The dance will take place rain or shine — no pets or refunds. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 678-654-2464. For more information, visit www.wwiidays.org.
About the CAF Dixie Wing Warbird Museum
The CAF Dixie Wing, based in Peachtree City, Ga., was founded in 1987. The Wing, one of the largest units of the Commemorative Air Force, maintains and flies seven WWII aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, an FG-1D Corsair and rare types such as the SBD Dauntless dive bomber and P-63A Kingcobra. The Dixie Wing organizes two large events a year — WWII Heritage Days and the Atlanta Warbird Weekend. The unit, composed of 300 volunteers, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that relies on contributions of time and funds to carry out the mission of the CAF. For more information go to www.dixiewing.org.
The Commemorative Air Force is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. Based in Dallas, Texas, the organization has more than 13,000 members and operates a fleet of more than 166 World War II aircraft. www.commemorativeairforce.org