Legislation to honor Doolittle Raiders
Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal tothe Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led seventy-nine airmen flying sixteen B-25 bombers on a daring and unprecedented attack on the Japanese mainland to avenge the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor four months earlier. The bombers took off from the Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the western Pacific, struck their targets, and then made their way as best they could to friendly forces in China. Carrying limited fuel, fifteen of the aircraft crash-landed or ditched at sea, with one landing in Soviet Russia. Three Raiders were killed during the crash-landings, five were interned by the Soviets for a year until they were able to escape, and eight were captured by Japanese forces. These prisoners were brutally tortured, one died of disease, and three were executed. Seventy-three of the eighty Raiders who embarked from the USS Hornet returned home from the raid; all eighty of them will be remembered forever as true American heroes.
This bill, H.R. 1209, awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the Raiders, which will be available for display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Original cosponsors include: Reps. Sam Johnson, Michael Turner, Tim Griffin, Alan Nunnelee, Jim Bridenstine, Steve Stivers, and Del. Madeleine Bordallo.
“The heroism of these Doolittle Raiders was a critical turning point in World War II,” Olson said. “These eighty brave Americans not only volunteered for this mission with zero knowledge of what it would entail, but they willingly put their lives in harm’s way, risking death, capture, and torture to bring the fight to the Japanese homeland. “The actions of Jimmy Doolittle and his Tokyo Raiders helped to forge an enduring example of heroism in the face of uncertainty for the Army Air Corps of the Second World War and the United States as a whole. I’m proud to honor their heroism through this legislation,” Olson concluded.
With the passing of Major Tom Griffin, 96, last month, there are only four surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders: Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole of Texas (Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot); Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite of Tennessee; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor of Washington; and Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher of Montana. This April, what will likely be the last official Doolittle reunion; will be held in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.