Have you heard of Lieutenant Richard E. “Dick” Cole? Probably not. I didn’t either. He was copilot on one of the B-25B Mitchell medium bombers launched April 18, 1942 to strike Tokyo, Japan during WWII. Now in his 90s, he’s one of only a handful of surviving members of that fateful mission (read more about it here). I was lucky enough to meet him this past weekend. And, as usual, I learned something.
This past weekend marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.
The weekend also marked the 24th anniversary of Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s WWII Weekend in Reading, PA. Being a pilot and aviation buff, I try to go every year, and this year was no exception. Besides the WWII-era flying machines (which are amazing to see and hear) something else grabbed my attention this year. His name was Dick Cole.
He was tucked away, sheltered from the sun, under a small tent in the corner of the airfield.
There was a steady flow of people lined up waiting for an autographed B-25B poster and the chance to talk with him.
As I got closer and read the signs, I realized the importance of who he was.
But what impressed me most was how much attention he put into signing his name. In fact, I counted 60 seconds for him to sign four letters.
60 seconds! That’s 15 seconds per letter!
Then, after he finished, he looked up with a huge smile and shook hands with the fan patiently waiting for his artwork before repeating the same process…over and over again.
I wondered why he was so meticulous. Most people I’ve seen giving autographs scribble a few letters in less than a second and move to the next one. It’s quantity over quality. More is better.
For Dick, though, it’s different. He’s proud of his work and understands the importance of his role in history. His signature is a reflection of him, his mission, and his legacy. It’s his life’s work.
And that’s what I took from my chance meeting with him. With the world seemingly spinning faster and faster (thank you technology), it’s important to take some time, relax, and do things the right way.
More isn’t always better. Better is better. Always.