US Air Force marks 65th anniversary of the legendary "Doolittle Raid"
Release Number: UNRELEASED
Published April 11, 2007
The U.S. Air Force will host several events in conjunction with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 65th annual reunion in San Antonio, Texas April 17-21. The raid, which was ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as America's response to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, remains one of the most daring combat missions in American history.
On April 18, 1942, famed aviation pioneer Lt. Col. "Jimmy" Doolittle and 79 other volunteers launched 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers from the deck of the USS Hornet. It was a bold and audacious mission and gave America a much-needed boost in morale in the early days of WWII. Doolittle, who was already famous for setting aviation speed and endurance records throughout the 1920s and 1930s, became a national hero and went on to command the 8th Air Force in Europe at the close of World War II. He died in 1993 and remains the only person to have ever held both of America's highest military and civilian awards - the Medal of Honor and the Medal of Freedom. Of the 79 men who took off with Doolittle that day, three were killed during the mission, five were interned in Russia and eight became prisoners of war in Japan. Of those POWs, three were executed by firing squad and another died in captivity. Thirteen others would die later in the war. There are 14 Raiders alive today.
The reunions, which began as a birthday party Doolittle hosted in Florida in 1947, have evolved into an annual gathering of one of the most elite military fraternities in the world. At every reunion, surviving Raiders meet privately to conduct a solemn "goblet ceremony." After a role call and a toast to the Raiders who have died since their last meeting, the remaining Raiders turn the deceased men's goblets upside down. When only two Raiders remain, they will open a bottle of brandy from 1896 - the year of Doolittle's birth - and toast their fallen comrades. The 80 goblets, which are normally on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, will be brought to San Antonio by U.S. Air Force Academy cadets.
This year's goblet ceremony will be Wednesday, April 18. The Raiders will arrive at Randolph Air Force Base Tuesday, April 17, and there will be a fly-in of vintage B-25s. The surviving Raiders will also attend the Basic Military Training Graduation at Lackland Air Force Base Friday, April 20, which will feature a B-25 flyover. Details of the reunion can be found at www.b-25yellowrose.com.
The Doolittle Raiders scheduled to attend this year's reunion are:
Col. William M. Bower
Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole
Major Thomas C. Griffin
Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite
MSgt Edwin W. Horton, Jr.
Maj. Gen. David M. Jones
Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher
Media interested in covering the reunion or doing a story prior to the event should contact Lt Col Stephen Clutter at (310) 235-7511 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or Capt Christy Stravolo at (310) 235-7532 or via e-mail at email@example.com.