Skip to comments.Doolittle's Raiders recall daring WW II mission
Posted on 05/06/2012 8:44:33 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
Three of Doolittles Raiders who helped boost American morale during the early days of World War II recalled the dangers of their bold bombing attack on the Japanese mainland.
Airman Edward Saylor didnt expect to come back alive when his B-25 set off on the 1942 mission.
Some of the group thought theyd make it, Saylor said Saturday. But the odds were so bad.
Saylor and the other 79 Doolittles Raiders were forced to take off in rainy, windy conditions significantly further from Japan than planned, straining their fuel capacity. None of the 16 planes pilots had ever taken off from an aircraft carrier before.
Saylor and two other raiders, Maj Thomas Griffin and Staff Sgt David Thatcherall in their 90s nowrecalled their daring mission and its leader, Lt Col Jimmy Doolittle, at a commemoration Saturday aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco.
Their mission has been credited with boosting American spirits at a critical time, less than five months after the devastating Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and with Japan sweeping through the Pacific. The bombing inflicted only scattered damage, but lifted spirits at home while shaking Japans confidence.
But it did not come without a price.
Three raiders were killed while trying to land in China. Eight were captured by the Japanese, of whom three were executed and a fourth died of disease in prison.
The Japanese also killed Chinese villagers suspected of helping many of the airmen escape.
Griffin recalled ditching his plane when it ran out of fuel after the raid and parachuting to the ground in darkness.
I got out of my airplane by jumping real fast, he said. It was a long, strange journey to the land down below.
Griffin landed in a tree and clung to it until daybreak.
Saturdays event was held in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the raiders April 18, 1942 mission. It also included: Doolittles granddaughter, Jonna Doolittle Hoppes; two seamen aboard the carrier the raiders left from, the USS Hornet CV-8, Lt Cmdr Richard Nowatzki and Lt J.G. Oral Moore; and a Chinese official who as a teenager helped rescue the raiders, Lt Col Chu Chen.
The American airmen remembered Doolittle as a great planner who knew his aircraft and fought alongside them.
Hoppes said her grandfather, who was born in Alameda and died in 1993, was very proud of the men on the mission.
I grew up with 79 uncles in addition to the ones I really had, she said. He was just very proud of how they turned out.
Actually, the defeat at Midway did that, but by extention, you are correct. The Doolittle Raid, as previously posted, set in motion the events that led to Operation MI (JN-25 “AF”) Midway. Previously, the Japanese leadership was lukewarm to Yamamoto’s proposal.
Had Midway gone as planned, a move against Hawaii would have followed very soon thereafter. It may have been “game over”, at that point. Australia was essentially defenseless from invasion and the British in the Far East were equally useless, at the time. Without the advance base at Pearl, sorties from the West Coast would be perilous, at best. The Panama Canal would have been either bombed or seized.
The take off’s can be seen on YouTube. They were filmed from a US Navy destroyer, I think.
I am not sure the mission was a good idea tho the men who flew them were indeed heroes. When they were launched they had little hope of reaching a safe destination. I really think they should have gotten the 500 miles closer despite the fishing boat having gotten off a message.
The loss of 16 B-25s and a lot of their crews was worth a lot more than the damage they did.
It may have had morale value but who knows for sure? It might have even made the Japanese more adamant in fighting against us.
We needed to retaliate for Pearl Harbor.
It was psychologically positive for America and had a negative impact on the Japanese.
It increased our resolve to defeat the Japanese.
The Japanese High Command knew they were going to eventually be beaten.
To paraphrase Admiral Yamamoto: “All we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve”.
Their time with us is fleeting
Probably better off considering how unworthy most of us are today
Thank you, LeoWindhorse.
That brought a tear to my eye as it does every time I see it.
Ive had more than a few white-knuckle hops on a 130. Never a concern.
I had one hop like that in Nam. But us grunts >were< concerned. LOL
They couldn't risk the carriers, Hornet and Enterprise. They only had three in the whole Pacific when the war started, two more were added, but Saratoga had been torpedoed and was on the West Coast for repairs, so only 4 were operational at the time of the Doolittle raid. Those carriers and the power they represented was worth a whole lot more than the B-25s, and their crews too. Remember the carriers had crews too, highly trained ones in many positions on the ship, and not easily replaced. It was a risky move to begin with, but the risk went way up when they were spotted. They had no way of knowing the boats did not get off a successful contact report.
my dad flew against the Krauts in the ETO - 9th AAF mediums - saw some real shit
They had all practiced short take offs on land, same length. Doolittle took off first, meaning he had the shortest take off roll. I imagine when he made it (just barely, there's video), the rest loosened up a bit.
Good points, bill1952.
I don’t think it’s ever been determined if the fishing boat(s) got off any messages. They didn’t dare take the risk that they didn’t.
No, we could not risk losing the Hornet and it was more valuable than all those bombers. At the time of the raid, we only had three carriers (I think) in the Pacific.
In a few months, the Hornet went on to play a key role at Midway.
A guy I used to work with, retired USMC Lt.Col., flew that same C-130 after those tests. He said the gear never was quite right. OK under most circumstances, but just not "right".
The Doolittle Raid showed the world that America would fight back and take the fight to the enemy.
What a keepsake you have there!
I had the honor and pleasure of shaking hands with one of the Navigators at an Air Show near Denver about 25 years ago.
and in this one we see , a few years later , where we really ripped the nips a new one , on a regular basis .
We need Doolittles’ and LeMays’ today !
America needs to be led by warriors not by lawyers .
We should be applying the same techniques of victory , back then , to Pakistan and Iran today . Get it on and get it done , and to hell with them if they resist . White flags emerging from the rubble , that’s what we need to see .
In the summer of 1943 my family lived in Alameda California.
I was about 6 or 7 years old.
my brother and I stood on the curb and watched a parade come
down Lincoln Avenue. Marching bands, Marines and Saliors
and a convertible with a hansome man sitting up in the back
throwing candy to us kids and smiling.
It was Jimmy Doolittle and I have never forgotten that day.
It is said that much resources were diverted to protect the mainland because of it, and it forced the IJN to become more aggressive, resulting in Midway.
God Bless those men. Even today, I would lift a glass to them.
The carrier was the key, and that is why they launched early. They were willing to sacrifice the cruisers, destroyers, planes, men and even the mission, but they were not willing to sacrifice the carrier.
She did meet her fate a few months later, though...