Friday, May 12, 2017

Doolittle Raiders 75th Anniversary Celebration

Eleven World War II era B-25 medium bombers were gathered at the National Museum of the United States Air Force for a special commemorative ceremony. The occasion was the 75th Reunion of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. On April 18, 1945, 80 airmen carried the burden of an entire nation as they flew towards the Japanese Home Islands and struck the first blow after Pearl Harbor. They raised the morale of all the allies but more importantly, they forced the redeployment of Japanese forces from offensive to defensive positions to protect the homeland.

This set of goblets was presented to the Raiders by the City of Tuscon, who hosted the reunion in  1959. Also shown is a bottle of cognac, provided by the Hennessee company, from which the final two Raiders were to drink the final toast to their comrades. You can see more about the final toast here. In a private ceremony, a roll call is administered and Colonel Cole turned Sgt. Richard Thatcher's goblet upside down due to his passing last summer.


General David  L  Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff talks about how the legacy of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders is maintained at the Air Force Academy and how important their history is to the entire service. There are over 600,000 airmen in both the active and reserve services.

Dr Doug  Lantry, Historian for the museum, explains how the story of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders fits into the history of the United States Air Force.

 Cindy Cole Chal, daughter of Colonel Richard "Dick" Cole shares how she had to learn what her father did by listening to others before he began to talk about it with her. Colonel Cole also did some of the most dangerous flying of World War II flying the "Hump," in the Chinese-Burma-India Theatre before continuing to fly with the Air Commandos. Cindy did say that her father was pleased to hear that the B-21 bomber would be called a Raider, in honor of all of them.

Colonel Cole being escorted to his seat. The crowd rose as one when he was announced and remained standing until he was seated. Cole, along with all the Raiders, felt like they were only doing their job, and while they appreciate the recognition, they never felt they deserve to be called heroes.

The Patriot Guard Riders surrounded the section of Memorial Garden with American flags.

General Golfein and Colonel Cole share a moment at the ceremony. Cole, at 101 years of age, is the last surviving participant of the raid. All the Raiders received the Congressional Medal of Honor which is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. You can find our coverage here

Some of the B-25s during the first flyover. They came in waves and the throbbing of their engines filled the air. They are all privately owned by various individuals and museums across the country.

Here is the missing man formation just before the smoking B-25 pulls up into the sky.

The presentation of the colors by the honor guard.

Cadets from the Air Force Academy place the wreath. The academy used to be the repository for the goblets before they came home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Cadets from the History Department also served during the Final Toast ceremony.

Here are some highlights of the ceremony. You can hear the B-1 bombers but not see them.

But Carol got one of them through the trees. Unfortunately, the B-1s had to alter their flight path as they approached the Memorial Garden and nobody got them except through the trees. And the unrestricted power climb was aborted. The B-1s represent the 34th and 37th Bob Squadrons, which were two of the four Army Air Corps Squadrons from which B-25 aircrews were selected for the Doolittle Tokyo Raid.

The Museum Foundation also has a Living History Film Series, where they present films of interest, and include the subjects, authors, relatives, or fellow servicemen of the aviation subjects. This night's presentation of Doolittle's Raiders: A Final Toast, was introduced by Colonel (Ret) Richard "Dick" Cole himself. The purpose of the program is to provide continuation of the amazing legacies of flight, from one generation to another. You can find information about the entire series by going here

On May 18 they will present The Last Man on the Moon, with Commander (Ret) Fred Baldwin, friend and fellow aviator of Eugene "Gen" Cernan. June 22 will feature The Gift: Mr R. A. Hoover with Sean  D  Tucker, airshow pilot. More information can be obtained by calling 937-253-4629.