10/11/2007 - SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- Former Lt. Nolan A. Herndon, a member of the famed Doolittle Raiders, died of pneumonia Oct. 8 at the age of 88.
The lieutenant was a navigator-bombardier on one of the B-25 bombers that took off from an aircraft carrier on April 18, 1942, to strike targets in Japan. Led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, that historic mission became known as the Doolittle Raid.
Lieutenant Herndon, a native of Greenville, Texas, enlisted in 1940 after attending two
years of college and was commissioned as a second lieutenant about a year later. He also graduated from navigator training and completed bombardier training.
During what many consider one of the most daring air raids in American history, 16 B-25 bombers took off from an aircraft carrier and headed for Japan. The planes each had a five-man crew and were to fly 650 miles over the Pacific Ocean to bomb their targets, then continue 1,600 miles in hopes of reaching airfields in China.
Although the planes completed their bombing missions, most ditched at sea or crashed in China. Lieutenant Herndon's plane landed in Russia, where he and his crew were captured in the then-neutral country. Lieutenant Herndon was held as a prisoner of war for about a year in Russia.
His death leaves only 12 surviving members of the Raiders.