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Ingenuity, Bravery, and Commemeration

April 18, 2013

I caught this article this morning, and felt it was worth the post.  In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the loss of most of our US bases in the Pacific to the Japanese, the US was struggling to find heartening news of any kind in the second world war.  Then came news of a surprise bombing attack on Japan itself, which greatly energized the nation.  Nobody at the time realized the planning, engineering, cross-force cooperation, and sheer bravery that unfolded to create that tactical win.

Today is the 71st anniversary, and three of the four remaining Dolittle Raiders gather to celebrate the small victory that turned around US fortunes.

The three of the four surviving crew members  from the history-making World War II Doolittle Raid, all of them in their 90s,  have traveled to a Florida Air Force base for a final public reunion.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 97, David  Thatcher, 91, and Retired Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, are  at Eglin Air Force Base in the  Florida Panhandle for a final public reunion of  the Doolittle Raiders.

They decided to meet at Eglin because it is  where they trained for their top-secret mission in the winter of 1942, just  weeks after the Japanese devastated the American fleet at Pearl  Harbor.

The fourth surviving raider, 93-year-old  Robert Hite, could not make the event.

As a kid (and frankly, still now as an adult), I devoured books on aviation history.  This raid was a wonder in many ways.  The B-25 Mitchell bombers used in the raid had to take off from an aircraft carrier in less than a third of their normal space, even while overloaded with fuel and bombs.  Through a quirky accident, the task force was discovered, and the planes ended up leaving over 400 miles from their planned take-off, which essentially turned the plan into a suicide mission… and yet very few raiders were lost due to the bravery of the Chinese allies and ingenuity of the raiders themselves.

Today, thank men (and women) like this for your freedom.

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