"Lest we forget" A great photo essay. The Raiders trained at what is now Eglin AFB before embarking on the USS Hornet.
MOST OF THESE MEN HAVE GONE WEST – I HOPE WE DON’T DESTROY WHAT THEY SACRIFICED THEMSELVES FOR
… A photo-essay sampling of my photography from attending the Doolittle Raiders’ 70th Anniversary Reunion events last week (17-19 Apr 2012) …
The static display on Tuesday — this line-up of 20 North American B-25 “Mitchell” fast medium bombers, of various versions and paint schemes, gathered at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in observance of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid on Japan , 18 April 1942:
I spent about eight hours walking up and down the flight line, doing about three circuits of the aircraft, taking many photographs, learning additional new history, listening to war stories by modern aircrews and WWII veterans, seeing some old friends and making a few new ones, and absorbing lots of solar radiation — a great day!
This nicely-painted B-25J carries the Doolittle Raiders’ official badge:
(B-25J “Doolittle Raiders, Special Delivery”)
Patriotic nose art, polished aluminum and a sunny morning combine for this warbird character study:
(B-25J “Old Glory”)
It was a very bad day for a Japanese merchant ship, if a patrolling B-25H crossed its path. According to Mr. Ralph Anderson, my high school science teacher who flew B-25s and B-29s in WWII, the proper attack technique is a shallow dive at the ship, while firing your 50-caliber machine guns. When you see bullet hits at the waterline, fire the semi-automatic 75-mm howitzer to put *BIG* holes in the target vessel … a very successful anti-shipping tactic that rarely required a second pass!
(B-25H “Barbie III”)
Noontime on Wednesday: 40 Wright R-2600 engines starting and warming up in front of the large crowd, which has gathered at the Museum and on Colonel Glenn Highway to see the B-25 takeoffs and commemorative flyover:
The first B-25 is in the air and the wheels are coming up, for the formation join-up over Beavercreek and the flyovers at the Museum:
Here’s a good shot of the 16-ship fly-over commemorating the Doolittle Raid of 18 April 1942. These aircraft came over the Museum at approximately the Raid’s bombing altitude of 1200 ft AGL:
Yes, they were loud … but not nearly as irritating as if they were jet engines!
I obtained several good close-ups during the flyover:
(B-25J “Executive Sweet / My Buck”)
(B-25J “Devil Dog”)
(B-25 “Miss Hap”)
(B-25J “Yellow Rose”)
… I don’t know about you folks, but the Missing Man formation *always* chokes me up …
(From left to right: “Miss Hap,” “Panchito” and B-25J “Betty’s Dream;” see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_man_formation if the significance of this salute is unknown to you.)
After the flyovers, there was a short ceremony and a wreath-laying at the Doolittle Raiders memorial. Col. C.V. Glines (Jimmy Doolittle’s biographer and an honorary Raider) gave a historical sketch, followed by a brief speech by Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole’s (Doolittle’s co-pilot of No. 1, and a Dayton native):
It was remarkable that this 96-year-old has a stronger speaking voice than others (decades younger) we heard at the same event!
Some of the Raiders leaving the ceremony. From the left: Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, Engineer-Gunner of No. 7 (back to the camera); Cole; Glines; and Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, Engineer-Gunner of No. 15 (hand obscuring face). Take a look at these old gentlemen — they are genuinely enjoying themselves!
At a reception that evening, I mentioned to Major Thomas Griffin, Navigator of No. 9 (in white cap toward the right in the photo below) that it appeared that he and the other Raiders truly were having a good time, and his response was, “Oh, yes! We all look forward to this all year!”
Thursday: The 80 silver goblets and 1896 bottle of Hennessy cognac were on display at the Raiders luncheon.
(The rumor on Wednesday evening, as related to me by one of the caterers, was that the Raiders would uncork the bottle for this year’s toast to the departed Raiders. … Although this is slightly contrary to Jimmy Doolittle’s stipulation that the last two surviving Raiders would open it to drink a final toast to their departed comrades, it would be entirely appropriate for the Raiders to do so in this 70th anniversary year, if they really think this will be their last reunion. I have looked but not yet found any confirmation of whether or not they cracked that bottle on Thursday — does anyone else have the straight dope?):
(For the story of the goblets, see http://www.doolittleraider.com/the_goblets.htm )
The Reunion guests also included two Navy veterans who served on the USS Hornet CV-8 during the Raid (actually, who served on Hornet from its commissioning, 20 Oct 1941, to its sinking in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 27 Oct 1942!; CPO Allen Josey shown below), a woman whose husband had assisted Crew #2’s evasion of the Japanese and return to safety from their Chinese village, and family members of the other Raider crews.
… Reflecting on what these many heroes had risked, sacrificed and achieved is simultaneously inspiring, humbling … and a terrific way to check one’s perspective …
During the office golf outing on Friday, five or six B-25s crossed our airspace (most of them singly; once as a 2-ship). It seems that many of the attending B-25 crews had stayed in town for the Raiders’ banquet on Thursday night, and then left for their home bases throughout Friday morning. It was nice to hear those big sweet ol’ Wright radials “one more time!”
I got this from a friend who was my dad’s best friend in HS and dad was Best Man in his wedding. His son Mark is my best friend since we were born. Roger flew on B 17′s and my dad was on B25 as both were tail gunners. These are the men who sacrificed so much for us to give us the Freedoms we have today. I just hope Americans wake up today as this country is in deep trouble. Enjoy these pictures friends.
Got this little known fact back from Mike TubeRose, a friend that flew B 17s in WWII. He was a college history professor. UT was one of the universities where he taught. We got to know him in a waiting room, while our son Ben was having a cornea transplant. We have been email buddies ever since. He has taught me quite a bit about history. I was pretty poor at history in high school and college, but find myself very interested today.
Little known fact… when the survivors were repatriated from the Doolittle raid —they still flew combat missions —two of my friends Ross Greening and Davy Jones flew B17s out of England and were shot down —Davy Jones ended up in Stalag luft 2 and was in on the Great Escape—-which was made into a movie– Ross Greening was in the same pow camp that I was in— Stalag luft 1 — he was a pretty good artist and drew lots of pictures of life in a pow camp — both great guys — Davy Jones Died just a couple of years ago at the air force retirement village in San Antonio—
h/t to Dave and Chris Hicks - Sun, 5/20/12