Today the last two survivors of the original eighty participants in the famous Doolittle Raid, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole (100 years young!!) and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in a special ceremony at Emancipation Hall in the US Congress. The men will later fly to the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio where the medals will be donated for display in the permanent Doolittle exhibit. I’ve had the privilege of a private after hours tour of the museum and I highly recommend you check it out the next time you’re in Dayton.
The Doolittle Raid was named after its commander, Col. Jimmy Doolittle, who responded to the call by President Roosevelt to plan, organize and conduct a near suicidal revenge air raid over Tokyo in the brief months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. For the first time in aviation history, heavy bombers would launch from an aircraft carrier (filmed by future Hollywood director John Ford!) . With no chance of return and flying on fumes, the aircrews were expected to overfly Japan and to crash land at sea or on the Japanese occupied mainland of China. Three captured aircrew were executed. The raid was a mere military pinprick but of monumental psychological value in the grim days following the attack on Pearl when the Japanese went from strength to strength in their march across the Pacific.
This Saturday will be the 73rd anniversary of the Raid.
Star of the Doolittle Raid was the legendary B-25 Mitchell Bomber. The one shown here, “Hot Gen”, is from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario. (Double click the image to examine every rivet in glorious detail)
(Double clicking on this image for the revelation of glorious detail is NOT allowed!)
Even after 7 decades, the sunken hulk of the battleship USS Arizona leaks gallons of fuel per day into Pearl Harbour! As Admiral Yamamoto headed home after the successful attack, he prophetically stated: “I fear we have merely roused a sleeping tiger,…. and given him a resolve!” He got that right!
Unable to attend today’s ceremony was Doolittle veteran Lt. Col Robert Hite who endured 40 months of captivity. He died two weeks ago at the age of 95. Ave Atque Vale!