Photo by Ben Strasser, courtesy U.S. Air Force
DAYTON, Ohio — The public will have an opportunity to celebrate the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders as the World War II aviation heroes commemorate the 70th anniversary of the raid on Japan during their reunion, April 17-20 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
On April 18, 1942, 80 men took off from an aircraft carrier on a top-secret mission to bomb Japan. These men, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
As of the first of the year, all five of the living Doolittle Tokyo Raiders — Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, Maj. Thomas C. Griffin and Master Sgt. David J. Thatcher — are able to travel and plan to be on hand for the reunion events.
The reunion plans feature many free events, including two autograph sessions, a memorial service and a B-25 flyover.
The film “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” will be shown for free in the museum’s Carney Auditorium on April 18.
As a special tribute to the Raiders during the reunion, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association Inc. is working to secure enough sponsorship funding to land 25 B-25 Mitchell bombers on the runway behind the museum. If their efforts are successful, this aviation event would be the largest gathering of B-25s since World War II.
The full reunion schedule is available at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/doolittle.asp.