WWII hero is goneDoolittle Raider dies
By JEFF WILKINSON
Lt. Col. Horace “Sally” Crouch of Columbia — a member of World War II’s Doolittle Raiders, who bombed Tokyo and other Japanese cities in retaliation for the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor — died Wednesday. He was 87.
In this 1942 photograph, Horace ‘Sally’ Crouch, left, has dinner with co-pilot J. Royden Stork and pilot R.D. Joyce before the daring WWII aerial attack on Japan in April 1942.
Crouch, a graduate of Columbia High School and The Citadel, was one of 80 men who volunteered for the Tokyo mission, which would become the most famous air raid in American military history.
He died of complications from pneumonia in Providence Hospital at 11:45 a.m.
“A real giant has passed,” Columbia Mayor Bob Coble said.
The Raiders flew 16 heavy Army B-25 bombers from the pitching deck of a Navy aircraft carrier — a first in military history — and bombed Japanese military targets before crashing or bailing out over China. Many considered the raid a suicide mission.
While only a modest military success, the raid came just four months after Pearl Harbor and was a tonic to the nation when U.S. morale was at its lowest.
Three airmen were killed in the raid, and eight were captured. Three of the captives were executed.
For his valor, Crouch was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster.
The Eight Raiders who were Captured
Crouch enlisted in the Army Air Corps just months before World War II and married his finance, Mary Epting, just days before Pearl Harbor.
“I thought, ‘I now have a wife and an enemy,’” he said in a 2002 interview with The State.
Soon after, Crouch and the other Raiders volunteered for secret, dangerous duty while stationed at the Columbia Air Base, now the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
It wasn’t until the fliers were aboard the carrier USS Hornet in the Pacific that their target was revealed. The announcement was met with elation.
“Every American was indignant(about Pearl Harbor) ,” Crouch said in the interview. “We had an opportunity to pay them back.”
Crouch, one of five men in Plane No. 10, would fly more than 2,000 miles that day. No. 10 would face more enemy aircraft, endure some of the heaviest anti-aircraft fire and sustain the most damage of any bomber on the raid.
The crew was credited with shooting down two Japanese Zero fighters and successfully bombing their target before bailing out near Chuchow, where they were rescued by Chinese guerrillas.
Crouch, who served as navigator, bombardier and nose gunner, remained in China for about a year after the raid, flying additional B-25 missions in the Pacific Theater.
He retired from the military in 1962 and taught in Columbia schools for about 25 years.
Each year since 1946, the Raiders have gathered to drink to their fallen comrades from silver chalices bearing their names.
The men celebrated their 50th and 60th reunions in Columbia. Crouch, struggling with ill health even then, was able to rally to share the toast in 2002, his last public appearance.
The cups, guarded by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo., are inverted in their case as each corresponding Raider dies.
The toast is: “Gentlemen, to our good friends who have gone.”
Master Sgt. Edwin E. Horton, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Crouch’s last remaining crewmate, on Thursday remembered him as a brave flier, a good man and a talented navigator who relished the reunions and the opportunity they provided to share memories.
“Next year, I will offer the toast to him,” Horton said. “I guess I’ll be the one to turn his cup over.”
Crouch’s death leaves only 16 surviving Raiders.
“News like this marks the passage of time,” Doolittle biographer and Raider historian C.V. Glines said from Dallas, Texas. “The World War II heroes are fading. It’s sad but inevitable .”
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at North Trenholm Baptist Church in Columbia. Services will be held at the church at 3 p.m. Thursday, with interment in Greenlawn Memorial Park.
Crouch was preceded in death by his wife. He is survived by his son, Martin E. Crouch of Blythewood, his daughter, Macia
Doolittle Raiders Flash
Audio and Video from USAF on Raid
Official Site of Doolittle Raiders
Rest in peace. Sadly, we're losing the last of the Greatest Generation.
RIP, we're nearing the end of an era as more and more WWII vets are passing.
Almost 20 years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a WWII Merchant Marine Vet.
His name was Jay Runion (he was too poor to retire)
He served on Liberty Ships in the Pacific, had his ship bombed and straffed. one time a ship he was on barely made it back to port, it almost sank.
I got to hear a lot of stories of his times in the Merchant Marine.
Brave Men,One and all.
Thank God that they were a different breed.
One of my customers is an 82nd Airborne veteran from the D-Day invasion.
I talk to him every chance I get.
Awesome story, awesome men.