Skip to comments.Doolittle Raider (Tom Griffin), Who Shunned Title of ‘Hero,’ Dies
Posted on 03/01/2013 9:43:41 AM PST by xzins
Now, hes flying with the angels.
Tom Griffin, one of just five surviving Doolittle Raiders, died Tuesday night in his sleep at the Fort Thomas VA hospital in Kentucky. He navigated one of 16 North American B-25 Mitchell bombers from an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific during the early dark days of World War II to launch a surprise daylight attack on Tokyo, lifting American morale. The longtime Green Township, Ohio, resident was 96.
By his own count, Mr. Griffin cheated death eight times during World War II. The first time was when he took off in a land-based bomber from the deck of the USS Hornet at 9 a.m. April 18, 1942. The mid-ocean takeoff made history. No land-based bomber had ever taken off from an aircraft carrier in combat. The Raiders made history later that day when they bombed Tokyo in partial payback for Japans Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Mr. Griffins plane, which he named the Whirling Dervish, knocked the lights out in Tokyo. The Whirling Dervishs bombs flattened the Tokyo Gas & Electric plant.
The planes lacked fuel to reach safe bases after dropping their bombs. Griffin parachuted over China after the attack, eluded Japanese capture, and returned to action in bombing runs from North Africa before being shot down in 1943 and spending nearly two years in a German prison camp.
Another goblet turned.
Unfortunately you are correct, another goblet turned.
The US Army produced the toughest pilots and crews that American aviation has ever known, they still do.
Me and a friend were just talking about the raiders and the goblet this morning and wondering when the bottle would be opened at Wright Patterson AFB.
I'm going by my memory so I apologize if I'm confusing this bombing run with another.
...and because there was only enough fuel to make it to Tokyo but not a return flight.
Instead, it will be Griffin’s turn to be honored at the reunion; a goblet with his name engraved on it will be turned upside down. The private ceremony will include only Raiders, the Raiders’ historian, Casey and two Air Force cadets, there will be a roll call of the names of all the Raiders. When Griffin’s name is called, Lt. Col. Richard Cole, at age 97 the oldest survivor, will give a report on Griffin, Casey said.
At the end of the reading of names, the white-gloved cadets will pour cognac into the goblets of the survivors, and they will drink their special toast: “To those who have gone.”
Besides Cole, a Dayton native who lives in Comfort, Texas, the other survivors are Lt. Col. Robert Hite of Nashville, Tenn.; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor of Puyallup, Wash., and Master Sgt. David Thatcher of Missoula, Mont.
Casey said Thursday that the Raiders have decided not to wait until there are two survivors to have the final toast. Instead, they plan to have a special gathering later this year to share what will be their final toast. He said because of the advancing ages of the remaining survivors, it was decided to allow all those still alive late this year to take part.
Dates and details will be announced later. For their toast, they will drink from a bottle of 1896 cognac, the year their commander Lt. Col. “Jimmy” Doolittle was born.
RIP, Tom Griffin.
Though he and many others shunned the title of ‘Hero’ they sacrificed and did there jobs well for us all.
They were planning on launching from the Hornet at a location closer to Japan. They planned on having enough fuel to hit Japan and fly to landing fields in unoccupied China. However a Japanese fishing boat spotted the American ships and radioed their location to Japan. The Doolittle raiders decided to launch without enough fuel to make it to China. They never considered cancelling the raid. They took off expecting to run out of fuel over Japan. Fortunately, they encountered tail winds after they dropped their bombs and most of them made it to Japanese occupied China.
I have also read that the Doolittle raid really shook up the Japanese. One B25 flew right over the Imperial Palace. Tojo was flying in a Japanese airplane and he saw the B25’s fly past him. The Japanese then pushed up their timetable for the Midway operation and went to Midway with a smaller force. The rest is history.
RIP ....he was usually the lead talker on the Military Channels bio of the Doolittle Raiders...shame, but he led a full life and was admired by many...RIP indeed.
They don’t make em’ like they used to... at least not to the numerical degree of yore. Thanks for the post Chaplain. Caught the story in USA Today, earlier this morning. Just the same, glad to see it told here at my favorite source of good news, with bona fides I might add!
The best thing I can think of to honor theirs, and many others sacrifice, is to do our best here, and now, to save our country from itself...
They did their job, now we need to step up and do ours...
The Hornet was spotted by Japanese fishing vessels which doubled as picket ships before they got to their planned launch position. The fishing vessel was sunk by the Hornet’s escorts, but not before it sent off a warning to Japan. The danger was not that the Japanese would anticipate an air raid, but that Japanese naval vessels, including submarines would attack one of the three U.S. aircraft carries in the Pacific.
Since there was no possibility of continuing to the planned launch point the dilemma faced by the commander was whether to launch immediately with the prospect of ditching in or near China of calling off the raid. There was probably not a single man who would have wanted to call it off.
The attack was militarily and economically insignificant in itself, but it was a great propaganda victory and morale boost for America and a major embarassment for the Japanese Navy. The Japanese response was a plan to seize the western Aleutian islands and Midway, which would have foreclosed the opportunity for a repeat performance. The Navy knew about the plans from intercepts and they could not counter both attacks. They understood that Midway was the more important objective and defended it. The result was probably the single most decisive naval battle in history, and decisive in a way that did not favor the Japanese.
So, by luring the Japanese Navy into an ambush, the Doolittle raiders accomplished more than anyone could have realistically ever have hoped.
..the real footage...
In his book, Saburo Sakai made some interesting observations.
He said the American pilots when the war started were extremely good as were the Japanese pilots. The American planes were much inferior which gave the Japs an advantage.
As the war went on the American planes equaled then exceeded the Japanese ones. By 1944 most of the pre-war Japanese veterans were dead and their replacements inferior.
He said the American pilots also declined but their far superior planes made the difference.
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