You might have seen that title and wondered what the heck I was talking about. 10 years ago I went to Grimes Field in Urbana, OH for the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. It was an event like no other and it cemented my love of aviation. There were 20 of the flying B-25’s in the world at one place at one time, it was the most ever seen together since WWII. Better than that four of the last surviving Doolittle Raiders were in attendance, along with Carol Glines an honorary raider, and one of the survivors of the USS Hornet CV-8 (I’m sorry to say I don’t recall his name at this time). Since then, Edward Saylor, Dick Cole, David Thatcher, and Thomas Griffin have all passed away with Dick Cole being the last of the raiders to go. Today marks the 80th anniversary of the raid that made them all famous.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, Roosevelt went to Congress to ask to declare a proclamation of war against Japan. Congress agreed and soon after Japan and Germany declared war on the US with the US declaring war on Germany. This would set off the United States’ involvement in WWII. Roosevelt went to his military leaders to come up with a strike against the heart of Japan in response to Pearl Harbor. A submarine commander came up with the idea of launching bombers from a carrier to attack mainland Japan. It was a bold and highly dangerous plan in which the precious American fleet would have to go well into the domain of the far superior Japanese fleet. 16 B-25 bombers launched from the USS Hornet on April 18th, 1942, and bombed mainland Japan before flying further onto China where the planes were to be handed over to American allies in China for further use in the war. This did not happen as all but 1 plane crashed due to bad weather and nightfall. The one surviving plane landed in Russia and was confiscated. The history of the raid is fascinating and many historians have spent a lot of time researching and interviewing survivors from all nations. This blog post hardly does it justice. You can read an older post of mine here to learn a little more but I would advise you to pick up Carol Glines, the Doolittle Raid for a more in-depth account of events.
Lastly, while the anniversary of the Doolittle Raid has always been about the brave men that took part in the raid itself, being able to remember and honor those folks wouldn’t have been possible without volunteers like those of the Children of the Doolittle Raiders, National Museum of the United States Air Force, all the private museums that fly and maintain the B-25’s and all the folks that are involved with these planes, the veterans and honestly those just helping to make these events function.