Interesting story.. The final salute: Last surviving member of historic 1942 Doolittle bombing raid on Japan that avenged Pearl Harbor bids farewell to his comrade-at-arms The final Doolittle Raider, who was one of 80 fliers to take off on the first bombing attack of mainland Japan following Pearl Harbor, attended the funeral of his last remaining comrade-in-arms. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard 'Dick' Cole, from Comfort, Texas, is now the last of the brave airmen who took off from the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942. He stood beside his comrade, and friend retired Staff Sergeant David Johnathan Thatcher, who died in Missoula hospital in Montana last week. The 94-year-old former airman suffered a stroke before dying. Scroll down for video http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/29/10/35C177B000000578-0-image-a-1_1467191620985.jpg +7 Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole, center, salutes his final comrade of the Doolittle bombing mission Staff Sergeant David Thatcher, gunner-engineer aboard the Ruptured Duck which crash landed off the coast of China http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/23/article-urnublicid:ap.org:3b8144a43e7a49dc90a881c747ea6dbe-WThaYnkqZf3b160cdee139ce98d-707_634x447.jpg +7 Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, front left, and Lt. Col. Richard 'Dick' Cole, right, were the last two survivors of 80 men who took part on the historic mission on April 18, 1942, which saw mainland Japan attacked. Pictured here in April 2015 http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/29/10/35C6062A00000578-0-image-a-3_1467192174496.jpg +7 A total of 16 B-25 bombers were launched from the USS Hornet for the daylight raid upon Japan http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/29/10/35C6062300000578-0-image-a-5_1467192428487.jpg +7 The B-25s lumbered down the flight deck and slowly climbed after the incredibly short take off roll The Doolittle Flyers were trained in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor for a top secret mission, known only to a few people. The men were told that the mission would be 'extremely hazardous' and were told at the beginning, this was the time to back out. The audacious plan, developed by Lt Col James 'Jimmy' Doolittle, would see 16, B-25 bombers attack sites on mainland Japan - even though no body had managed to launch an aircraft that size from an aircraft carrier. The mission required a US fleet, protecting the USS Hornet to approach the Japanese coast unseen. Then, the heavily-laden aircraft lumbered down the flight deck, barely making it into the sky, before approaching the Japanese coast. The aircraft were launched some 200 miles before the planned departure point, almost ensuring they would not have enough fuel to land on friendly Chinese airstrips and would be required to crash land. http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/29/10/35C6061F00000578-0-image-a-7_1467192492398.jpg +7 When the aircraft took off, the aircrew realized they were unlikely to reach a friendly airstrip after the mission http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/29/10/35C6064300000578-0-image-a-9_1467192547208.jpg +7 80 men, pictured, took part on the mission which was designed to be a major morale boost for the US public The mission was designed to provide a major morale boost to the US population, while showing the Japanese their islands were not invulnerable to attack. However, after launching the B-25s, the Hornet's fleet had to retreat as the aircraft could not land on the carrier's desk. Instead, the aircraft had to head towards the Chinese mainland and try to avoid Japanese troops. Thatcher was engineer-gunner aboard the plane nicknamed 'The Ruptured Duck'. http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/06/29/10/35C6062F00000578-0-image-a-12_1467192616032.jpg +7 The mission was led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, pictured, who died in September 1993 After the bombing, Thatcher's plane - running low on fuel - crash landed in the ocean near China. The plane flipped over and all the crew members except for Thatcher were seriously injured. Thatcher was knocked out, but soon regained consciousness, gathered the rest of the crew, administered first aid and convinced some Chinese guerrillas to take the crew to safety in inland China. Thatcher received a Silver Star for gallantry in action. The crew's crash-landing and evasion of Japanese troops in China was depicted in the movie 'Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo', based on the book written by the plane's pilot, Lt. Ted Lawson. Because the bombing run was so dangerous, all those involved were volunteers. Thatcher said they gave little thought about earning a place in history. He told AP in March 2015: 'We figured it was just another bombing mission.' . In the years afterward, though, he said, they realized: 'It was an important event in World War II.' After his military career, Thatcher worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years as a clerk and later a letter carrier. He retired in 1980. He stayed in contact with the surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders and attended nearly every reunion the group held through the Final Toast in November 2013. In March 2015, Thatcher and Cole presented the Raiders' Congressional Gold Medal for heroism and valor to the Air Force museum for permanent display. Thatcher was born on July 31, 1921 in Bridger, Montana, one of 10 children. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Dawn; three of their five children and seven grandchildren.