HomeNewsArticle Display

78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid

Doolitle Raiders graphic

April 18, 2020 marks the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, in which Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces, and Vice Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., U.S. Navy, led a joint bombing operation on the Japanese mainland aimed to inflict both material and psychological damage upon the enemy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Travis Burcham)

Doolitle Raiders graphic

April 18, 2020 marks the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, in which Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces, and Vice Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., U.S. Navy, led a joint bombing operation on the Japanese mainland aimed to inflict both material and psychological damage upon the enemy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Travis Burcham)

In April 18, 1942, Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a daring raid on military targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya and Kobe. This heroic attack against the major cities was accomplished through coordination between the Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy, which carried the 16 North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to a location within take-off distance from the Japanese Islands. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Tech. Sgt. Marianique Santos)

In April 18, 1942, Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a daring raid on military targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya and Kobe. This heroic attack against the major cities was accomplished through coordination between the Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy, which carried the 16 North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to a location within take-off distance from the Japanese Islands. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Tech. Sgt. Marianique Santos)

Doolittle Raid

April 18, 2020 marks the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, in which Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces, and Vice Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., U.S. Navy, led a joint bombing operation on the Japanese mainland aimed to inflict both material and psychological damage upon the enemy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

(U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

(U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

In choppy, frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean and more than 10 hours out from their planned takeoff, the Doolittle Raid task force was spotted. Not wanting to jeopardize the mission, the command was given and each of the modified bombers slowly crept off the Hornet’s flightdeck — one of the most daring aerial missions in American history was underway.

April 18 marks the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, in which Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces, and Vice Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., U.S. Navy, led a joint bombing operation on the Japanese mainland aimed to inflict both material and psychological damage upon the enemy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

This attack against major Japanese cities — Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya and Kobe — would take a combined effort of the U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces. The mission consisted of sixteen B-25 medium bombers loaded onto the USS Hornet (CV 8) to be taken within takeoff distance of mainland Japan. The B-25 was chosen because of its unique combination of range, bomb capacity and short takeoff distance that would allow it to launch from an aircraft carrier.

The B-25Bs and the 24 volunteer crews came from the 17th Bombardment Group from Pendleton Field, Oregan. To prepare for aircraft carrier takeoffs, the 17th BG would receive further training at Eglin Field, Florida, from Lt. Henry L. Miller, a Navy pilot. The crews also practiced cross-country and night flying, navigating without radio references or landmarks, low-level bombing and aerial gunnery.

In mid-March the crews completed their training and traveled to Alameda Naval Air Station near San Francisco to load their heavily modified bombers onto the Hornet. On April 2, 1942, 136 Airmen and 16 bombers loaded onto the Hornet, led by Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, and got underway for their secret mission.

The Hornet was spotted by enemy vessels approximately 650 miles from Japan, they were forced to begin the mission 250 miles further than originally planned. The takeoffs were timed for when the ship’s bow pitched highest to give the bombers more loft. The average time between takeoffs was less than four minutes.

The Raiders faced some resistance from anti-aircraft fire, but most were able to hit their targets in Japan. Due to the early departure, all of the planes were nearly empty of fuel as they completed the raid. Of the 16 planes, 15 either crash-landed or the crew elected to bail out on the eastern coast of China.

Though the raid caused relatively minor physical damage, it forced Japan to recall combat forces for home defense, raised fears among Japanese civilians and boosted morale among Americans and their allies abroad.

In June of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded Jimmy Doolittle the Medal of Honor for his actions in planning and conducting the raid. All 80 Raiders were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and those who were killed or wounded during the raid were awarded the Purple Heart. Every Doolittle Raider was also decorated by the Chinese government.

Starting in 1946, to celebrate the birthday of Jimmy Doolittle, the Raiders held an annual celebration that eventually evolved into their annual goblet ceremony and reunion. In 1959 the citizens of Tucson, Arizona, presented the Raiders with a set of 80 sterling goblets — each engraved with the names of the members of the historic raid. Each year, the Raiders held a brief ceremony to honor those who passed away. The passing of retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, the last survivor of the Doolittle Raid, in 2019 marked the end of the annual goblet ceremony. Since then, the goblets have been on permanent display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

On May 23, 2014, 72 years after the historic raid, President Barack Obama signed Public Law 113-106 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian recognition Congress can bestow — to the 80 members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid in recognition of their service. The two surviving Raiders at the time, Cole and retired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, were unable to attend but were honored at the Capitol Hill presentation.

“The Doolittle Raid is one of many accomplishments of the Greatest Generation, it displayed their resilience to overcome obstacles and challenges, and still accomplish the mission” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “As we near the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid and commemorate World War II’s 75th anniversary, we would like to take the time to remember those who paved the way for our Air Force today. Thank you Doolittle Raiders.”

The men and women of the U.S. military remain forever indebted to the WWII veterans who demonstrated selfless service and sacrifice that characterizes the Greatest Generation in defense of global peace and security, and the Doolittle Raiders represent this spirit of creativity and innovation.

 

Engage

Twitter
.@LRAFB recently received a brand new C-130J Super Hercules, marking the last C-130J delivery for the 19th Airlift… https://t.co/aebjDLaLiT
Twitter
An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies above the Gulf of Mexico en route to South Carolina. The jet is a compact, highly man… https://t.co/YZhs930LMG
Twitter
.@HiAirGuard Amn & Soldiers were airlifted from neighboring islands & back to Oahu, after assisting state authoriti… https://t.co/kuHakmkG4e
Twitter
Airmen from the 26th Operational Weather Squadron @TeamBarksdale complete their mission of developing and communica… https://t.co/3YTE1qItnE
Twitter
Staff Sgt. Gentry Shelby, @127Wing, provides aircraft maintenance to the A-10 Thunderbolt II amid the #COVID19 pand… https://t.co/TpmjrW356G
Twitter
An F-16 Fighting Falcon an F-35A Lightning II from @EielsonAirForce & an F-35A from @HAFB, fly over Fairbanks, Alas… https://t.co/YjbJd55EhV
Twitter
RT @USAFHealth: WELCOME HOME HEROES! Medical personnel from the 315th Aerospace Medicine Squadron return home after a month supporting the…
Twitter
Twitter
Twitter
The 786th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team trained using an F6 Alpha EOD robot to disarm a… https://t.co/6zwlp7MQOD
Twitter
In this episode of Inside AFIMSC, - Maj Gen Wilcox holds the center’s first virtual Commander’s Call, - Alpha Warr… https://t.co/BAmtJQX9Ua
Twitter
RT @HQAirUniversity: In our forth video of a 5-part series, AU's Director of Strategic Leadership Communication, discusses his 4 C’s of lea…
Twitter
RT @NASA: Docking confirmed! @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug officially docked to the @Space_Station at 10:16am ET: https://t.co/hCM4UvbwjR
Twitter
RT @NASA_TDRS: Dragon has docked! Crewed Dragon, with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on board, are connected to @Space_Station, with @NASA’s…
Twitter
Rise and shine! A KC-46 Pegasus at Altus AFB as the 97th Air Mobility Wing prepares to conduct a severe weather e… https://t.co/QBT5nuXMqx
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: An amazing story of resilience & grit sure to inspire you! Airman Shannon Busch triumphed over incredible odds to graduate…
Twitter
.@HQAirUniversity's Holm Center Chaplain's thoughts on distance. #ReadyAF #COVID19 #Resilient https://t.co/svDFNqIqNX
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,231,188
Follow Us