Veterans Day, 2013: Remembering The Doolittle Raiders
While we celebrate all Veterans today, I am acutely focused on our World War II vets because we are quickly losing so many of them. My wonderful, 97-year-old father-in-law is still with us and our family is so grateful and fortunate for that. But so many of his colleagues have passed on and are surely rewarded in heaven. Those who remain still plan reunions as they can, but these are quickly fading (thank you Bob in Texas for all you do for the FTD group!) At any rate, the surviving Doolittle Raiders recently had their last gathering and final toast at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Only 4 of these brave men remain. They signed up for an almost certain suicide mission to boost morale. You can see a complete overview of the events here: National Museum of the US Air Force: Doolittle Raiders Final Toast
Here’s an interview with General Jimmy Doolittle from 2007:
And a description:
On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. James Doolittle led a mission of 16 B-25 bombers with 80 volunteers to send Japan a clear message of American air power. They took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet which positioned the aircraft within a reasonable striking distance. On this 65th anniversary, their mission was to drop the first bombs on military targets in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama. All reached their targets successfully, with little Japanese response.
Fifteen of the planes crashed or were abandoned in China. A 16th plane landed near Vladivostok, Russia. Two of the aircraft came down in enemy territory and three crewmen were executed. The raid had a psychological effect on the American public which was still reeling from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
War Department planners hit on the idea of launching Army Air Forces bombers off a Navy carrier, then recovering the aircraft at airfields in China. The call for volunteers went out in March 1942. Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Maj. Gen. “Hap” Arnold gave Doolittle the task of organizing and training the volunteers for the mission.
Doolittle was well-known not only as a military pilot, but also for his civilian air racing accomplishments. Short, stocky and nearly bald, he had a reputation for stretching an aircraft to its operational limits, and for doing things his way.
He also believed U.S. security depended on a strong Air Force. “I am convinced that the required air force can be rapidly organized, equipped and trained if it is completely separate from the Army and developed as an entirely separate arm.”
Of the 80 volunteers, 71 men returned home from the war as some fliers went on to fly bombing missions in Europe. Today, 14 original Raiders survive and have an annual reunion.
In 2007 there were 14. Now there are only 4. We salute them and all our brave military!
GOD BLESS AMERICA – PASS THIS ON!!
- How Tucson goblets became Doolittle’s Raiders toast (azstarnet.com)
- Heroic WWII Doolittle Raiders sip on 117-year-old cognac as they toast for the final time (guns.com)
- The Veteran’s Prayer (onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com)