Doolittle Raiders 65th anniversary kicks off at Randolph
4/18/2007 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNEWS) -- The 65th anniversary reunion of the Doolittle Raiders launched with an opening ceremony attended by more than 250 spectators April 17 here.
The ceremony included several short speeches from Randolph Air Force Base leadership and the Doolittle Raiders' historian and manager.
Second Lt. Austin Haygood, who is attending navigation training here, said he first heard about the raiders in high school and it was a great honor to see them in person.
"It's awesome to be in the same hangar as these historical greats," he said. "They made that first strike when no one thought it was possible. Their bravery and dedication is inspiring."
On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle and a select team of 80 pilots, gunners, navigators and bombardiers of B-25 Mitchell bombers were assembled to execute a surprise attack over the islands of Japan. The attack raised the morale of the nation after the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.
Seven of the 14 remaining raiders attended the ceremony as well as their famous goblets. The 80 goblets, one for each raider, are an integral part of the reunion. In a special ceremony, each year, goblets are turned upside down when a raider passes away. The goblet ceremony has been practiced since 1959.
The goblets were not the only piece of history at the event.
Shining in the background of the ceremony was the aircraft they flew on the raid, the B-25. The aircraft was flown to Randolph AFB by Doug Rozendaal, a civilian pilot. The pilot said this is the fourth Doolittle Raiders reunion he has participated in, and he never misses a chance to honor the heroes.
"It is a tremendous honor and a great opportunity to be a part of this," he said. "The responsibility we all have is that we make sure to keep their stories alive."
Retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole was one the raiders in attendance for the ceremony. He said that even after all of these years, he is still embarrassed to be singled out for his heroics. He said there were thousands of people in World War II who deserved to be recognized.
Colonel Cole said he enjoys interacting with today's Airmen.
"I'm really impressed with this generation of Airmen," he said. "They are gung-ho, well educated and they really know their jobs. I don't worry about the future at all."
Link with pictures
U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B bombers prepare to take off from USS Hornet (CV-8), on the morning of April 18, 1942. These are the last five or six planes to be launched.
USAAF B-25B bombers tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while the carrier was en route to the mission's launching point. The plane in the foreground is tail No. 40-2203 (mission plane No. 9). Partially visible at far right is tail No. 40-2250 (mission plane No. 10). Piloted respectively by 2nd Lts. Harold F. Watson and Richard O. Joyce, these B-25s attacked targets in the Tokyo area.
U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B bombers tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while the carrier was en route to the mission's launching point. The plane in the center is tail No. 40-2283 and mission plane # 5. Capt. David M. Jones piloted the aircraft to targets in the Tokyo area.
Air crews prepare .50 caliber machine gun ammunition on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8). Three of their B-25B bombers are visible. In the upper left is tail No. 40-2298 and mission plane No. 6, piloted by Lt. Dean E. Hallmark. The aircraft in top center is tail No. 40-2283 and mission plane No. 5, piloted by Capt. David M. Jones. Both attacked targets in the Tokyo area. (U.S. Navy photo) Lt. Hallmark, captured by the Japanese in China, was executed by them at Shanghai on 15 October 1942.
U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B bombers and Navy F4F-3 fighters tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8) before the start of the operation. Note wooden dummy machine guns in the tail cone of the B-25 at left.
View from the island of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission's launching point. USS Nashville (CL-43) is in the distance. Eight of the mission's 16 B-25B bombers are visible on the carrier's flight deck. Aircraft at right is tail No. 40-2250 and mission plane No. 10. 2nd Lt. Richard O. Joyce piloted the aircraft to targets in the Tokyo area.
A U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B bomber lines up for takeoff from USS Hornet (CV-8), on the morning of April 18, 1942. Note white lines painted on the flight deck, below the plane's nose and wheels, to guide the pilot during the takeoff run. This is the third or fourth plane to be launched.
Army Air Forces B-25B bombers parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8). The plane in the upper right is tail No. 40-2242 and mission plane No. 8. Capt. Edward J. York piloted the aircraft to targets in the Tokyo area.
Some of the mission's B-25B bombers parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8). Note use of the flight deck tie-down strips to secure the aircraft.
Several of the mission's 16 B-25B bombers are lined up on the deck of the USS Hornet (CV-8). In the foreground is tail No. 40-2261, which was mission plane No. 7, piloted by 2nd Lt. Ted W. Lawson. The next plane is tail No. 40-2242, mission plane No. 8, piloted by Capt. Edward J. York. Both aircraft attacked targets in the Tokyo area. Lt. Lawson later wrote the book "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo."
USS Gwin (DD-433) approaches USS Hornet (CV-8) from astern, with USS Nashville (CL-43) beyond, while en route to the mission's launching point. The ships are framed by the tail of a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B, parked on the rear of the carrier's flight deck.
Two of the operation's 16 B-25B bombers, parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission launching point. The plane at right has tail No. 40-2282 and mission plane No. 4. During the raid, 2nd Lt. Everett W. Holstrom Jr., piloted the aircraft to targets in Tokyo. Note protective cover over its gun turret and wooden dummy guns mounted in its tail cone. The plane at left is warming up its engines, as was done periodically during the voyage.
View looking aft from the island of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission's launching point. USS Gwin (DD-433) is coming alongside, as USS Nashville (CL-43) steams in the distance. Eight of the mission's 16 B-25B bombers are parked within view, as are two of the ship's scout bombers. Note arresting gear and flight deck barriers in the lower portion of the photo, and 1.1" quad anti-aircraft machine gun mount at left.
An Army Air Forces B-25B bomber awaits the takeoff signal on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), as the raid is launched April 18, 1942. Note the flight deck officer holding launch flag at right, and white stripes painted on the flight deck to guide the pilot's alignment of the plane's nose and port side wheels.
A U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B bomber flies over USS Hornet (CV-8) while on its way to attack targets in Japan, just after it was launched on the morning of April 18, 1942.
funny though, I bet if you called any of them that to their face they'd simply say they were doing their job.
The following taken from my Grandfather's journal:
Apr. 1. Underway. Enterprise, "Mighty Nora", Salt Lake City and our cans. No one knows where.
Apr. 4. Met a new carrier force to-day. Through glasses we can see she is loaded with B-25's. No one knows what carrier or what cruisers thy are.
Apr. 5. Carrier is the New "Hornet", Nashville, (6 in cruiser-15 guns) 8 in cruiser Vincerones_ And their surrounding cans. We started into condition II yesterday. 4 on 4 off.
Apr. 6 to Apr. 17 Colder than the "knobs of Hades". We have on all the cold weather clothes we have, including sheep skins and raincoats. By the 18th Brown raincoats have turned white, with salt spray from extremely high seas.
Apr. 18. Enemy trawlers sighted. Nashville sent out to "take care of same". Decided to launch the B 25's this P.M. Major General Doolittle's was the first plane off. All 16 took off without any trouble.
Apr. 19. Small reports coming in as to our damage on Japanese home land by the 25's. Places hit: Tokyo, Nagasaki, Kobe and no one knows how many planes lived through the attack.
Apr. 20. Rejoined our cans to-day. Our force now consists of 3 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, two carriers and our cans.
Apr. 24. Into Pearl Harbor to-day. Liberty again. Look out "Red Light" district here we come.
May-1942 Mostly just in and out until the latter part of the month. About the twentieth of May we pulled out heading southwest. On the way we hear there is a large air-sea battle going on in the Coral Sea. Guess we are headed for it. We have the mightiest force assembled, in one place, since the war started. It consists of; Hornet, Portland, Enterprise, "Nora", San, Diego (a new A.A. cruiser, carrying 8-5" 38 caliber guns, four mounts of 1.1's, and 16-20m.m.). Pensacola, and our cans. We are spotted several times by long range flying Boats. (Jap). [Later we find this was on purpose] We hear scuttlebutt about a mighty Jap invasion force assembling. We turn around and head back for P.H.
You want the rest of it? Its really long, and covers his entire involvement in WWII from his joining the USMC to when he went home.
Big to anyone who was part of this.
It may not have "advanced the war", but it had to be done.
They were the badass warriors of their day. They all knew they were signing up for what could very well have been a one-way ticket.
And it deserves it own thread.
It had its own thread in Team. Sometime around early January.