It’s no secret that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was done at the same time that Japanese politicians were in Washington, DC trying to work out a peace deal. It was the first signal that we would soon be involved in a brutal full scale war with an adversary that sought to achieve victory at any cost. The attack killed thousands of unsuspecting soldiers, stunned the nation and sent a crippling blow to the US Pacific Fleet. With morale of the US soldiers and sailors extremely low after the attacks, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to send a clear message to both the Japanese foe and American forces that our nation could do anything it put its mind too. That thinking resulted in the famous ‘Doolittle Raid’ on Tokyo.
It was decided that 16 stripped down B-25 bombers would be launched off an aircraft carrier to do a daring and heroic raid on Tokyo and other parts of Honshu Island. What complicated the mission was that the aircraft were not able to land back on the aircraft carrier and that meant they had to fly to mainland China after dropping their bombs; the crews were not sure what to expect after they landed there.
The mission was led by Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, one of the Army Air Corps’ most experienced and innovative thinkers. On 18 April 1942, the raid commenced; it was only a short 4 months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that the plan was developed and the attack carried out. 15 of the B-25’s landed in China and another landed in the Soviet Union. Of the 80 “Doolittle Raiders” who took part in the mission, 3 died during the operation and another 4 died in captivity.
Although the bombing was just a ‘pin prick’ to Japan, militarily speaking, it caused the Japanese military and citizen population to second guess their vulnerability during the war and gave the American military and citizens a much needed morale boost and confidence builder.
Of the 80 men that took part in the famous raid on Tokyo, only two remain alive to this day. They are Lieutenant Colonel Richard ‘Dick’ Cole (99) and Staff Sergeant David Thatcher (93). It is interesting to note that Colonel Cole was actually the co-pilot for Colonel Doolittle himself. Sergeant Thatcher was an engineer/gunner on plane number seven.
In 2014, all of the “Doolittle Raiders” who took part in the mission were awarded the nation’s highest honor for civilians, the Congressional Gold Medal. Unfortunately, many of the members received their gold medals posthumously.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio has a static display commemorating the amazing efforts and outstanding bravery of the 80 airmen that took part in the mission. The two remaining airmen decided to present their medals for display at the museum as a way to honor their fallen comrades for the historic deeds they did on that day so many years ago. That simple act with no real military significance quite possibly changed the course of the entire war in the Pacific.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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