RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
On April 18, 1942, America sent 80 brave men to carry out an incredibly daring mission. Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his crew climbed aboard their 16 B-25s and launched toward Japan. Their target: Tokyo.
After months of intensive training, following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Doolittle's men were ready for the challenge. As their carrier, the USS Hornet steamed toward Japan, they were sighted by a Japanese patrol boat. Fearful that their surprise attack would be compromised, Doolittle decided to launch early.
Flying at wavetop height to avoid detection, the B-25s arrived at their intended targets over the island of Japan and successfully dropped their payload.
After egressing the area, the B-25s turned toward China in hopes of reaching their recovery bases. Due to deteriorating weather conditions and low fuel, every crewman was forced to either bailout or crash-land along the eastern coast of China. Some did so and were captured. Others successfully evaded and made it to friendly territory with the help of Chinese civilians.
The Doolittle Raid did not cause significant damage to the Japanese, but it was a tremendous psychological blow as they felt their islands could not be touched by any enemy.
At a time when America was reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jimmy Doolittle and his men raised the morale of many Americans, and gave them hope in a world that was to become more turbulent as wars on two fronts would prove.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the famous Doolittle Raid and the 60th anniversary of the Doolittle Reunion, an event held every year since 1947. It is a moment when these honored warriors reflect upon the time in history when they were masters of the skies, and a time when they carried America's airpower to the enemy's shores at a time and place of their choosing against all odds.
Only 15 Raiders survive to this day. They serve as the legacy to future generations of aviators that will take the fight to anyone that threatens our freedom and way of life.
This year's reunion is scheduled for April 17-22 in San Antonio. Randolph will play host to several events including a fly-in of six B-25s and several other historic aircraft, some of which the Raiders flew while stationed here as cadets in flight training. The event will take place on the South Ramp beginning at 3 p.m. on April 17. Following a brief ceremony, the crews will host an open cockpit for Randolph personnel and their families. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside Hangar 4.
Visit www.b-25yellowrose.com or call Maj. Jeffrey Welborn at 652-4823 for more details on the reunion.