Doolittle Raiders visit Washington Airmen, memorials
/ Published November 11, 2006
WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Five former Army Air Forces members who were part of a famed World War II bombing mission traveled to the nation's capital to participate in many Veterans Day events, including wreath laying ceremonies at the Air Force and Navy Memorials Nov. 10.
Known as the "Doolittle Raiders," the surviving members of commander Lt. Col. James Doolittle's World War II raid over Japan also met with servicemembers here at the Pentagon and Bolling Air Force Base.
At the Navy Memorial, Doolittle Raiders met with former crewmembers of the Navy carrier USS Hornet, which launched the 16 Army Air Forces B-25s that carried the men across the Pacific and over Japan April 18, 1942, just four months after the Pearl Harbor attack. The Doolittle Raiders dropped their bombs on Japan, hitting targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe and Nagoya.
During a wreath laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne paid tribute to the Doolittle Raiders, saying "these magnificent (Air Force memorial) spires that soar upward call to mind the unlimited horizon of the human spirit, a spirit that dwelled in you as you pulled your B-25s off that USS Hornet in the Pacific on that historic day."
Though the bombing mission caused little damage in Japan, it had a huge impact on America's morale and changed the tone of the war. It set the United States and its allies on a course that would eventually lead to domination of the Pacific during World War II and the ultimate defeat of Japan in 1945.
Of the original 80 Airmen who took part in the raid, 16 remain. They try to hold an annual reunion to pay tribute to their fellow Raider's who have died since the last time they met.