BREAKING: After 73 Years Doolittle Raiders Will Be Given Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday
It was 1942 and America was reeling from the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 80 men volunteered for what all of them assumed was a suicide mission to prove to the world America would stand strong. Dubbed The Doolittle Raiders (or the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders), these brave young men launched an attack on April 18, 1942, of B-25 bombers directly on Japan.
In 1942 when 80 brave airmen, all volunteers, signed up for a mission in the Pacific, they didn’t know where they were going or what they would be doing. All they knew was, it was a dangerous mission from which they may not return. After April 18, 1942, they became known as the “Doolittle Raiders,” led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle into the first air raid on Japanese soil during World War II.
The crew, along with 16 B-25 bombers, were more than 600 miles from the Japanese mainland on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier when they were spotted by an enemy boat. Faced with the choice to abandon the mission or launch the raid knowing they didn’t have enough fuel to make it to allied airfields, Doolittle decided the crew would attack.
Flying through hazardous conditions with little visibility, the Doolittle Raiders faced steep odds. Despite the conditions, they were able to successfully bomb all of their targets in five different cities. Soon after, with their fuel gauges quickly heading towards empty, the 16 airplanes were forced to bail out or crash-land. Eight Doolittle Raiders were captured, two died in the crash, and 70 returned to the United States. The raid changed the course of the war in the Pacific and provided a tremendous morale boost for Americans reeling from the attack at Pearl Harbor.
The Doolittle Raiders epitomized the honorable qualities of “The Greatest Generation”: they were brave, heroic, and no matter the odds, honorably fought in service to their country. Doolittle Raider Lt. Col. Dick Cole simply described the daring mission,”[W]e were just doing our job, part of the big picture, and happy that what we did was helpful.”
Honoring their outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States, the Doolittle Raiders will receive a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow.
The ceremony will take place Wednesday, April 15 at 3:00 p.m. in Emancipation Hall and will be live-streamed at www.speaker.gov/live.
On April 18, 2015, the 73rd anniversary of the raid, the medal will be presented at a ceremony to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio by one of the two surviving Raiders, Lt. Col. Dick Cole. The other surviving Raider, Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher is also planning to attend. More information on that ceremony can be found here.
April 1942: Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle and Capt. Marc A. Mitscher with members of Doolittle’s Raiders while en route to Japan on board USS Hornet CV-8. (Maritime Quest)
Congratulations to Beverly Perlson and Katie O’Malley for working tirelessly for the Raiders.