This is an amazing static display of 20 North American B-25 “Mitchell” fast medium bombers, of various versions and paint schemes, gathered at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in observance of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942: which occurred only 4+ months after Japan's Pearl Harbor surprise attack!
This is part of a photo-essay courtesy of Dan Hogberg, who attended the Doolittle Raiders’ 70th Anniversary Reunion between 17-19 Apr 2012…maybe their last!
Hogberg spent about eight hours walking up and down the flightline, doing about three circuits of the aircraft, taking many photographs, learning additional new history, listening to war stories by modern aircrews and WWII veterans, seeing some old friends and making a few new ones, and absorbing lots of solar radiation -- a great day!
The 80 silver goblets and 1896 bottle of Hennessy cognac were on display at the Raiders luncheon. For the story of the goblets, see http://www.doolittleraider.com/the_goblets.htm
Rumor had it that the Raiders would uncork the bottle for this year’s toast to the departed Raiders. … Although this is slightly contrary to Jimmy Doolittle’s stipulation that the last two surviving Raiders would open it to drink a final toast to their departed comrades, it would be entirely appropriate for the Raiders to do so in this 70thanniversary year, if they really think this will be their last reunion…no confirmation of whether or not they cracked that bottle…
The following news follow-up by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Bates of Defense Media Activity helped put things in perspective. He reported that five remaining members of the famous Jimmy Doolittle Tokyo Raid were honored in a banquet at the National Museum of the United States Air Force here April 19.
Four of the raiders were in attendance, Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, Maj. Thomas C. Griffin and Lt. Cols. Richard E. Cole and Edward J. Saylor. The fifth, Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, was unable to attend for health reasons.
The banquet commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle raid, where the crews of 16 B-25 bombers took off from the deck of the USS Hornet and dropped bombs on several locations in mainland Japan. After the mission, the crews didn't have enough fuel to return home and 15 of the B-25s were either crash-landed in Japanese-occupied China or abandoned when their crews bailed out. The final B-25 landed safely within the borders of the Soviet Union and was the only plane to survive the mission.
The mission, though daring, was important because it marked the first time the United States was able to take the offensive against Japan after the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The raid forced the Japanese to change their tactics and boosted the morale of America and its allies.
"It was a hard mission, but we got away with it," Saylor said, who served as a gunner with crew 15. "And we always knew it would help morale."
The banquet not only honored the brave men of the Doolittle Raid, but gave those in attendance a chance to show their respect and meet the living legends.
"We are honored to host the raiders on the 70th anniversary of such a historic event," said Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jack Hudson, the museum's director. "And we are grateful these amazing men chose to come here to commemorate this famous World War II mission."
During the banquet, the raiders were honored with a special movie featuring Hollywood stars such as Gary Sinise and Jon Voight, who all thanked the raiders for their service and praised them for their courage.
Several representatives from the Chinese Embassy were also on hand, as well as Hu Daxian, from Zhejiang, China, whose husband, Li Senlin, aided the rescue of Doolittle Raider crew number two, after they landed in Japanese-occupied China.
The banquet culminated a week of events held at the museum and throughout the local area, including a flyover of 20 B-25s, the most in one flight since World War II, and several autograph sessions and luncheons with the raiders.
Gentlemen, thank you for your service and for lifting the spirits of all Americans following the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and our entrance into World War