#MilitaryMonday

Military thank you

May 1934, the USS Constitution completes a 3-year, 90 port city tour along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. After her journey, she returned to Boston, Mass. where she remains today as part of the Boston National Historical Parks.

USS Constitution, (1797-____) arriving at San Francisco, California, during her tour of ninety United States Ports, 1933. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 70818.

USS Constitution, (1797-____) arriving at San Francisco, California, during her tour of ninety United States Ports, 1933. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 70818.

USS Constitution, (1797-____) in Gaillard Cut, Panama Canal. Photographed during her 1931-34 cruise. Courtesy of Commander Louis J. Gulliver, USN, (Retired), July 1940. He was in command of USS Constitution during her 1931-34 cruise. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 55938

USS Constitution, (1797-____) in Gaillard Cut, Panama Canal. Photographed during her 1931-34 cruise. Courtesy of Commander Louis J. Gulliver, USN, (Retired), July 1940. He was in command of USS Constitution during her 1931-34 cruise. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 55938

USS Constitution, (1797-____) being greeted by Curtiss OC Observation Aircraft. Photographed during her 1931-34 cruise. Courtesy of Commander Louis J. Gulliver, USN, (Retired), July 1940. He was in command of Constitution during her 1933-34 cruise. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 55934.

USS Constitution, (1797-____) being greeted by Curtiss OC Observation Aircraft. Photographed during her 1931-34 cruise. Courtesy of Commander Louis J. Gulliver, USN, (Retired), July 1940. He was in command of Constitution during her 1933-34 cruise. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 55934.

USS Constitution, (1797-____), in the Chagres River approaching the first lock at the Panama Canal. USS Grebe (AM 43) is astern. Photographed during her 1931-34. Courtesy of Commander Louis J. Gulliver, USN, (Retired), July 1940. He was in command of USS Constitution during her 1931-34 cruise. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 55937.

USS Constitution, (1797-____), in the Chagres River approaching the first lock at the Panama Canal. USS Grebe (AM 43) is astern. Photographed during her 1931-34. Courtesy of Commander Louis J. Gulliver, USN, (Retired), July 1940. He was in command of USS Constitution during her 1931-34 cruise. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 55937.

In 1944, USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) was commissioned during WWII‬ and served in several campaigns in the Pacific earning five battle stars.

USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14), circa the late 1960's or early 1970's. Photo # NH 97488-KN

USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14), circa the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.
Photo # NH 97488-KN

Four U.S. Navy Grumman S-2E Trackers from Anti-Submarine Squadron VS-21 Lightning Bolts and VS-29 Tromboners fly over the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14) as she arrives at San Diego, Calif., following her conversion to an anti-submarine warfare carrier. VS-21 and VS-29 were assigned to Carrier Anti-Submarine Air Group 53 (CVSG-53) aboard the Ticonderoga in 1970. Date: June 26, 1970  Source U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.063

Four U.S. Navy Grumman S-2E Trackers from Anti-Submarine Squadron VS-21 Lightning Bolts and VS-29 Tromboners fly over the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14) as she arrives at San Diego, Calif., following her conversion to an anti-submarine warfare carrier. VS-21 and VS-29 were assigned to Carrier Anti-Submarine Air Group 53 (CVSG-53) aboard the Ticonderoga in 1970.
Date: June 26, 1970
Source U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.063

Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters from USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) prepare to take off for strikes against targets in Manila Bay. The two leading planes are F6F-5N night fighters, with wing-mounted radar. Photograph is dated Jan. 9, 1945, but may have been taken during the 5-6 November 1944 attacks. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.  Catalog #: 80-G-305244

Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters from USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) prepare to take off for strikes against targets in Manila Bay. The two leading planes are F6F-5N night fighters, with wing-mounted radar. Photograph is dated Jan. 9, 1945, but may have been taken during the 5-6 November 1944 attacks. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Catalog #: 80-G-305244

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) afire after she was hit by a Kamikaze attack off Formosa, Jan. 21, 1945. Photographed from USS Miami (CL 89). A Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane is on the cruiser's starboard catapult, in the foreground. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.  Catalog #: 80-G-273151

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) afire after she was hit by a Kamikaze attack off Formosa, Jan. 21, 1945. Photographed from USS Miami (CL 89). A Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane is on the cruiser’s starboard catapult, in the foreground. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Catalog #: 80-G-273151

May 8, 2015: More than 50 vintage ‪#WWII‬ aircraft flying over our nations Capital as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe. ‪#‎VEDay70‬

Vintage military aircraft Vought F4U ‘Corsair’ flies over the Washington Navy Yard, on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to honor World War II veterans.

Vintage military aircraft Vought F4U ‘Corsair’ flies over the Washington Navy Yard, on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to honor World War II veterans.

(May 8, 2015) – A formation of North American B-25 ‘Mitchell’ aircraft fly’s over Arlington, VA. while participating in the  70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Flyover of Washington D.C. Fifty-six aircraft from various organizations shared in the event and the B-25 ‘Mitchell’ was the aircraft used in “Doolittle’s Raid Over Tokyo” on April, 18, 1942.

(May 8, 2015) – A formation of North American B-25 ‘Mitchell’ aircraft fly’s over Arlington, VA. while participating in the
70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Flyover of Washington D.C. Fifty-six aircraft from various organizations shared in the event and the B-25 ‘Mitchell’ was the aircraft used in “Doolittle’s Raid Over Tokyo” on April, 18, 1942.

Vintage military aircraft flies over the Mall in Washington, on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to honor World War II veterans.

Vintage military aircraft flies over the Mall in Washington, on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to honor World War II veterans.

Vintage military aircraft fly over the Washington Navy Yard and display ship Barry (DD 933), on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to honor World War II veterans.

Vintage military aircraft fly over the Washington Navy Yard and display ship Barry (DD 933), on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to honor World War II veterans.

A Consolidated PBY ‘Catalina’ aircraft fly’s over the Washington Navy Yard as part of the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe.

A Consolidated PBY ‘Catalina’ aircraft fly’s over the Washington Navy Yard as part of the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe.

(May 8, 2015) – Two Vought F4U ‘Corsiar’ aircraft fly in formation over Arlington, VA. while participating in the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Flyover of Washington D.C. Fifty-six aircraft from various organizations shared in the event.

(May 8, 2015) – Two Vought F4U ‘Corsiar’ aircraft fly in formation over Arlington, VA. while participating in the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Flyover of Washington D.C. Fifty-six aircraft from various organizations shared in the event.

(May 8, 2015) – A Grumman TBM ‘Avenger’, Vought F4U ‘Corsair’, North American P-51 ‘Mustang’, and Curtiss P-40 ‘Warhawk’ fly in formation while participating in the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Flyover of Washington D.C. Fifty-six aircraft from various organizations shared in the event.

(May 8, 2015) – A Grumman TBM ‘Avenger’, Vought F4U ‘Corsair’, North American P-51 ‘Mustang’, and Curtiss P-40 ‘Warhawk’ fly in formation while participating in the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Flyover of Washington D.C. Fifty-six aircraft from various organizations shared in the event.

And finally, Douglas TBD-1 torpedo planes from USS Enterprise (CV 6) In flight, circa 1939. Plane closest to the camera is # 0318. Note how stripes painted on wings assist pilots in maintaining three-plane V formation. Collection of Vice Adm. George C. Dyer, USN (Retired). U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

16

Crash

#MilitaryMonday: 73rd Anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

Less than 300 feet. Could this really work? It had barely succeeded in practice runs (and those were from the comforts of Eglin Airfield's endless runway.) Now here they were, aboard the seemingly inadequate deck of the USS Hornet - pitching and heaving in the swells of the Pacific.

Less than 300 feet. Could this really work? It had barely succeeded in practice runs (and those were from the comforts of Eglin Airfield’s endless runway.) Now here they were, aboard the seemingly inadequate deck of the USS Hornet – pitching and heaving in the swells of the Pacific.

It’s April 1942 and in the first attack of the Japanese mainland during World War II, the Doolittle Raid begins with 16 Army Air Force B-25 bombers launching from USS Hornet‬ (CV 8), approximately 650 miles off Japan due to being discovered by a Japanese guardboat. U.S. Pacific Fleet

Embarrassed by the attack, the Japanese high command resolves to eliminate the risk of any more raids by destroying America’s aircraft carriers, moving up a decision that leads them to disaster at the Battle of Midway six weeks later in June 1942.

Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, USAAF. Courtesy of US National Archives

Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, USAAF.
Courtesy of US National Archives

Nobody spoke. The B-25’s engines droned on. Co-pilot Lt. Rich Cole’s dogtags clinked and vibrated as the engines grew louder. One last look at the sweetheart – a small photo wedged into the instrument panel.

“God, I hope we covered the checklist,” he silently thought to himself. “Boss will be mad if we didn’t.”

Daring was too weak a description for what these raiders were attempting to pull off. This would alter history … If it were to work.

Failure was not an option.

Cole took a deep breath and pushed the throttle forward.

Less than 19 weeks after the U.S. Navy was attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the American military struck back. On April 18, 1942 – 72 years ago this month – sixteen Army Air Force bombers launched from a Navy aircraft carrier to attack the enemy’s homeland.

Led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, the raid was launched from USS Hornet, commanded by Capt. Marc Mitscher and escorted by ships under the command of Vice Adm. “Bull” Halsey aboard his flagship, USS Enterprise.

The extraordinary joint Doolittle Raid showed Imperial Japan’s military leaders their vulnerability and America’s resolve.

The raid also demonstrated innovation, courage and resilience.

The five-man B-25 crews trained relentlessly prior to their mission, with specialized training led by Navy flight instructor Lt. Henry F. Miller. The Army Air Force made ingenious modifications so the bombers could have extra fuel but less weight.

Pilots, all volunteers, needed to be extremely fearless, taking off in their huge planes from a short flight deck. On rough seas they launched in bitter cold, 75-knot winds and foam-flecked spray, as Sailors aboard recalled.

Doolittle, as his team’s leader, took off first. His success inspired the other pilots just as their entire mission would inspire the nation – putting action to the nationwide words of resolve heard throughout the world: “Remember Pearl Harbor!”

The innovation, courage and resilience demonstrated by Halsey and Doolittle and countless others carried over into the weeks and months that followed – first in the Battle of the Coral Sea and then, in the big turning point of the War in the Pacific – the Battle of Midway.

Historians tell us that the Doolittle Raid contributed strategically to our victory at Midway, as the enemy felt humiliated and overextended to try to prevent another attack on their homeland.

The Doolittle Raid is also an early example of the evolution of “air sea battle,” integrating air and naval capabilities across domains, where collaboration and cooperation helped win the day – and eventually win the war. We remember the heroes of the Doolittle Raid.

This strategically important event is particularly meaningful to our joint team today. This uniquely shared accomplishment is a reminder of what we have the potential to accomplish when we mutually support each other.

The Doolittle Raiders – The Mission

On April 18, 1942, it was a “nice sun-shiny day overcast with anti-aircraft fire,” according to Army Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eldred V. Scott.

Over Tokyo, anyway.

Scott’s weather quip signaled the near completion of the Doolittle Raiders’ mission on that day 72 years ago today. But it was just the beginning of the unknown for the 80 men and their 16 planes.

Seven of those airmen would never return home. None of the planes did. While the bombing mission itself was relatively minor in terms of damage inflicted, the raid set into motion what would become a pivotal naval victory for the U. S. at the Battle of Midway.

The Doolittle Raid featured Army Air Force pilots and planes, but it was a joint effort with the Navy. The raid itself was concocted by Navy Capt. Francis Lowe. Another Navy officer, Lt. Henry L. Miller, is one of two men named as “Honorary Tokyo Raiders.” Miller supervised the take-off training the pilots received at Eglin Field, Fla., and was there for the raid launch. The other was Tung Sheng Liu, a Chinese engineer who helped several Tokyo Raiders escape to safety.

And it was the Navy that provided the transportation – via USS Hornet (CV 8) and her escorts – to the launch point.

The Navy wasn’t without its losses for the Tokyo Raid. One patrol plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, landing in the water, but the crew was recovered uninjured. Another patrol plane was lost during patrol operations, with both the plane and crew lost. And during the hour-long launch, a Sailor lost his arm after being hit by the final B-25 when it rolled backward out of position, striking him with its propeller.

Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 1942. Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, USAAF (front), leader of the raiding force, wires a Japanese medal to a 500-pound bomb, during ceremonies on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV 8), shortly before his force of sixteen B-25B bombers took off for Japan. The planes were launched on 18 April 1942. The wartime censor has obscured unit patches of the Air Force flight crew members in the background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, 80-G-41191

Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 1942. Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, USAAF (front), leader of the raiding force, wires a Japanese medal to a 500-pound bomb, during ceremonies on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV 8), shortly before his force of sixteen B-25B bombers took off for Japan. The planes were launched on 18 April 1942. The wartime censor has obscured unit patches of the Air Force flight crew members in the background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, 80-G-41191

From Conception to Launch

After Pearl Harbor, there was pressure from the commander-in-chief to strike back at Japan. Using carrier-capable aircraft to strike the enemy’s homeland would put a carrier task force into harm’s way for a counterattack, since the lighter Navy planes didn’t have the range of land-based bomb-delivering aircraft. And with only three aircraft carriers left in the Pacific fleet after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. needed to protect every asset.

Navy Capt. Francis Lowe, assigned to U.S. Fleet Commander Adm. Ernest J. King, had seen B-25s taking off from Norfolk, Va., using airstrips shaped a little like a carrier deck, minus the rolling waves. The Mitchell medium bombers, which had never been used in combat before, had the range and the wing-span that would allow for carrier takeoff. Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, an air racer who had helped develop instrument flying, was brought in to investigate the feasibility of such a mission, along with Adm. King’s Air Ops officer, Capt. Donald B. “Wu” Duncan.

The newly-commissioned aircraft carrier Hornet left Norfolk under the command of Capt. MarcMitscher to join a convoy to the Panama Canal. Meanwhile Doolittle had chosen his raiders, 5-man crews for the 16 planes, and was training for 500-foot takeoffs at Eglin Field, Fla., under the guidance of Lt. Miller. At the end of March, Hornet docked at Alameda, Calif. Using cranes, 16 B-25s were loaded onto the ship’s deck. With all of the planes loaded and lashed to the deck, the Hornet moored in the bay for the night. It was April 1.

The following morning, Hornet’s crew was made aware of their mission.

Army B-25’s onboard the USS Hornet while en route to their launching point April 18, 1942. (NH 53426 Courtesy of the NHHC Photo archives)

Army B-25’s onboard the USS Hornet while en route to their launching point April 18, 1942. (NH 53426 Courtesy of the NHHC Photo archives)

On April 7, naval operation plan No. 20-42 was issued, creating Task Force 16, with Task Group 16.1 under Vice Adm. William “Bull” Halsey with flagship carrier Enterprise (CV 6) and her escorts. Task Group 16.2 was headed by Capt. Mitscher with his carrier Hornet (CV 8) and her escorts.

The instructions were simple. Proceed after joining up to carry out the attack; upon completion return to Pearl Harbor; destroy enemy forces as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the attack. The two task groups met up April 13 and proceeded to steam toward a point 500 miles east of Tokyo, where they would launch the attack.

To prepare each B-25, loaded with a one-ton bomb, for its mission and flight to a safe zone in China, engineers removed the tail gunner section, painting broomsticks to look like machine guns. A rubber fuel tank was installed in the tail section, along with 10 5-gallon gas cans for manual fuel addition during the flight to a tank installed where the lower gun turret was, and a larger tank located in the bomb bay. The total fuel payload was 1,141 gallons for a 2,000-mile range.

An Army Air Forces B-25B bomber awaits the takeoff signal on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), as the raid is launched, 18 April 1942. Note Flight Deck Officer holding launch flag at right, and white stripes painted on the flight deck to guide the pilot's alignment of his plane's nose and port side wheels. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives (photo # 80-G-41194).

An Army Air Forces B-25B bomber awaits the takeoff signal on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), as the raid is launched, 18 April 1942. Note Flight Deck Officer holding launch flag at right, and white stripes painted on the flight deck to guide the pilot’s alignment of his plane’s nose and port side wheels.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives (photo # 80-G-41194).

Air patrols scouted the sea looking for enemy ships that could relay their location back to Japan, and submarines Trout and Thresher kept a steady surveillance.

After plowing through gale-force winds of 36 knots during the afternoon of April 17, enemy vessels were picked up on radar at 3:12 a.m. April 18. A light on the horizon confirmed their presence. The task group changed direction by 350 degrees and 30 minutes later, the vessels left the radar screen.

At 7:15 a.m., an Enterprise search plane reported an enemy patrol vessel and the task force sighted it at 7:44 a.m. Nashville dispatched the vessel with gunfire. Over concern the vessel had alerted the Japanese of their presence, Doolittle decided to launch the planes immediately, still 400 miles from their original launch destination.

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF, (center) with members of his flight crew and Chinese officials in China after the 18 April 1942 attack on Japan. Those present are (from left to right): Staff Sergeant Fred A. Braemer, Bombardier; Staff Sergeant Paul J. Leonard, Flight Engineer/Gunner; General Ho, director of the Branch Government of Western Chekiang Province; Lieutenant Richard E. Cole, Copilot; Lt.Col. Doolittle, Pilot and mission commander; Henry H. Shen, bank manager; Lieutenant Henry A. Potter, Navigator; Chao Foo Ki, secretary of the Western Chekiang Province Branch Government. Official U.S. Army Air Forces Photograph, from the collections of the US Navy Museum (# 97502).

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, USAAF, (center) with members of his flight crew and Chinese officials in China after the 18 April 1942 attack on Japan.
Those present are (from left to right): Staff Sergeant Fred A. Braemer, Bombardier; Staff Sergeant Paul J. Leonard, Flight Engineer/Gunner; General Ho, director of the Branch Government of Western Chekiang Province; Lieutenant Richard E. Cole, Copilot; Lt.Col. Doolittle, Pilot and mission commander; Henry H. Shen, bank manager; Lieutenant Henry A. Potter, Navigator; Chao Foo Ki, secretary of the Western Chekiang Province Branch Government.
Official U.S. Army Air Forces Photograph, from the collections of the US Navy Museum (# 97502).

The first B-25, flown by Lt. Col. Doolittle, launched at 8:20 a.m. The take-offs were timed for when the ship’s bow pitched highest to give the Mitchell more loft. The average time between takeoffs was less than four minutes. The last B-25 left at 9:19 a.m.

Around 2 p.m., aircraft from Enterprise picked up two more enemy vessels, sinking one and damaging the other.

It wasn’t until after the war the Navy was able to confirm crew on the patrol boat had alerted the Japanese of their location. But when they requested confirmation, there was no answer since the vessel had already been sunk. Getting no response, the Japanese government chose to ignore the message.

The Doolittle Raiders faced some resistance from antiaircraft fire, but most were able to hit their 10 civilian and military targets in Japan. The repercussions of the U.S. hitting the Japanese homeland set in motion a tsunami-like strategic response that would ultimately change the tides of war to an American victory.

Nose of one of the raiding force's B-25B bombers, which is tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8) while en route to the takeoff point. This aircraft is mission plane # 11 (USAAF serial # 40-2249), nicknamed "Hari Carrier" and decorated accordingly. The plane's pilot was Capt. C. Ross Greening. It attacked targets in Yokohama. Note slippage mark on the nosewheel and tire, and inscription on the wheel cover: "Inflating instructions inside — check tire pressure daily". USNHHC photograph (#NH 53287).

Nose of one of the raiding force’s B-25B bombers, which is tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8) while en route to the takeoff point. This aircraft is mission plane # 11 (USAAF serial # 40-2249), nicknamed “Hari Carrier” and decorated accordingly. The plane’s pilot was Capt. C. Ross Greening. It attacked targets in Yokohama. Note slippage mark on the nosewheel and tire, and inscription on the wheel cover: “Inflating instructions inside — check tire pressure daily”.
USNHHC photograph (#NH 53287).

Army Air Force Raid That Set Up Naval Victory

After Doolittle’s Raiders dropped bombs on Tokyo, the Japanese military reaction was swift and vengeful. Japanese Combined Fleet commander Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto decided to strike the United States’ mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll and turn it into a Japanese air field. Yamamoto knew the U.S. had insufficient strength to defeat his Royal Imperial Navy, which could generally choose where and when to attack.

The Americans, however, had deduced Yamamoto’s attack through communications intelligence. Adm. Chester Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, established an ambush and was waiting for the Imperial Navy. The second of the Pacific War’s great carrier battles began June 4, 1942, and by the end, Yamamoto’s forces lost four fleet carriers compared to just one for the United States.

The Battle of Midway had leveled the naval playing field for the American naval force. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive, which soon had the Japanese Imperial Navy on the ropes.

An Army Air Force B25B bomber takes off from USS Hornet (CV 8) at the start of the raid, April 18, 1942. Note men watching from the signal lamp platform at right. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives – Courtesy of the NHHC Photo archives)

An Army Air Force B25B bomber takes off from USS Hornet (CV 8) at the start of the raid, April 18, 1942. Note men watching from the signal lamp platform at right. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives – Courtesy of the NHHC Photo archives)

Best Laid Plans…

After completing their bombing mission, finding safe haven would be the Raiders’ toughest task. Taking off 400 miles sooner than planned had the planes nearly empty on fuel as they headed toward China. Of the 16 planes, 15 either crash-landed or crew bailed out. Only one plane landed – in Russia – where the crew was held as prisoners with liberal privileges. They escaped 13 months after the raid to a British consulate in Iran.

Seven Doolittle Raiders were killed in the mission: Two drowned and a third was killed by the fall after bailing out; eight were captured by the Japanese. Three of the eight POWs were executed Oct. 15, 1942, and another died of malnutrition Dec. 1, 1943. The surviving four POWs were released in August 1945.

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle (left front), leader of the attacking force, and Captain Marc A. Mitscher, Commanding Officer of USS Hornet (CV-8), pose with a 500-pound bomb and USAAF aircrew members during ceremonies on Hornet's flight deck, while the raid task force was en route to the launching point. NHHC photo (# NH 64472).

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle (left front), leader of the attacking force, and Captain Marc A. Mitscher, Commanding Officer of USS Hornet (CV-8), pose with a 500-pound bomb and USAAF aircrew members during ceremonies on Hornet’s flight deck, while the raid task force was en route to the launching point.
NHHC photo (# NH 64472).

The Raiders who landed in China were assisted by American missionary Rev. John M. Birch, whose contacts within Japanese-occupied China helped the Raiders to escape. Afterward, Birch was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Air Force, continuing his work as a missionary while gathering intelligence on the Japanese. He was killed Aug. 25, 1945, at the age of 27, during a confrontation with Chinese Communists. The John Birch Society honors Birch, a recipient of both the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Service Medal.

Even though the Doolittle Raiders bombed Tokyo, it was the Chinese who suffered the most from the raid. Furious the Chinese nationalists were protecting the Americans, the Japanese retaliated against several coastal cities suspected of harboring the Americans, killing an estimated 250,000 Chinese citizens.

Brig. Gen James Doolittl poses beside an Air Corps recruiting poster that alluded to his bombing raid on Japan in April 1942. c. 1943.

Brig. Gen James Doolittl poses beside an Air Corps recruiting poster that alluded to his bombing raid on Japan in April 1942. c. 1943.

Doolittle was so convinced his mission had been a failure, he was convinced he would face a court-martial upon his return to the United States. Instead, he was promoted to general, skipping the rank of colonel. He and all of his Raiders were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Mitscher served in a variety of command leadership positions for the rest of World War II, earning the rank of admiral and title as Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Capt. Lowe, a submariner, was promoted to rear admiral and as Chief of Staff of the 10th Fleet, guided the Atlantic anti-submarine effort. He was also commander of the Cruiser Division 16, which supported the Okinawa invasion and participated in several strikes against the Japanese. After the war, he supervised the surrender and neutralization of Japanese installations in the Pacific. By his retirement in 1956, Lowe had achieved the rank of admiral due to his leadership and combat actions.

Photo # 80-G-41197  USS Hornet launches B-25 bombers on the Doolittle Raid.

Photo # 80-G-41197
USS Hornet launches B-25 bombers on the Doolittle Raid.

Flight instructor Miller earned a Legion of Merit for his duties in training the Doolittle Raider pilots. He served with distinction throughout his career in the Navy, serving in Vietnam and launching the first aircraft carrier strikes on North Vietnam from the decks of Ranger (CV 61), Coral Sea (CV 43) and Hancock (CV 19). On Dec. 2, 1965, he engaged the first nuclear powered Task Force Enterprise (CVN 65) and Bainbridge (DLGN 25) against Vietnam. Miller retired as a Rear Admiral in 1971.

Just weeks after Doolittle’s Raiders flew off her deck, Hornet fought gallantly in the Battle of Midway, where her aircraft shared in the sinking of a Japanese cruiser. During the fight for Guadalcanal, Hornet was the only remaining operational carrier to oppose the enemy.

It was during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, while Hornet’s aircraft attacked and damaged a Japanese carrier, the carrier suffered irreparable damage from torpedoes and kamikazes. After her crew was forced to abandon ship and American attempts to scuttle her failed, Hornet remained afloat until she was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese ships Oct. 27, 1942.

Of the more than 260 American deaths during the battle, 118 came from Hornet, the last U.S. fleet carrier ever sunk by enemy fire.

Hornet was awarded four service stars for her World War II action and Torpedo Squadron 8 earned a Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Midway.

Medal to commemorate Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo, April 18, 1942 (obverse and reverse). CMU War Collection

Medal to commemorate Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo, April 18, 1942 (obverse and reverse).
CMU War Collection

As for Tech. Sgt. Scott, he successfully bailed out over Chun King, China. Upon his return to the U.S. in Aug. 1942, Scott entered officer candidate school, and then served overseas as an aircraft maintenance officer for the rest of World War II, and through both the Korean and Cold wars, retiring from active duty in 1959 as a lieutenant colonel. He died in 1978 at the age of 71.

On the Web:

Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942 – download the PowerPoint plans of the raid

Official Doolittle Raiders site

Other Official Doolittle Raiders site

Navy’s Role In Doolittle Raid Honored

James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle

USS Hornet (CV-8)

USS Enterprise (CV-6)

Crash

Sources:

  • Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking. New York: Basic Books, 1997. ISBN 0-465-06835-9.
  • Chun, Clayton K.S. The Doolittle Raid 1942: America’s First Strike Back at Japan (Campaign: 16). Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2006. ISBN 1-84176-918-5.
  • Coletta, Paolo. “Launching the Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 18, 1942”. The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 63, No. 1, February 1993.
  • Craig, John S. Peculiar Liaisons: In War, Espionage, and Terrorism in the Twentieth Century. New York: Algora Publishing, 2004. ISBN 978-0-87586-331-3.
  • Craven, Wesley Frank and James Lea Cate, series editors. “Chapter 12: Drawing the Battle Line in the Pacific”. Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. I: Plans and Early Operations, January 1939 to August 1942 . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948. (Air Force Historical Studies Office internet edition.)
  • Culbertson, Charles. Forgotten Hero: The Story of Jack Manch, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo and the Self-Sacrifice of An American Warrior. Staunton, Virginia: Clarion Publishing, 2013. ISBN 978-1493501847.
  • Doolittle, James H. and Carroll V. Glines. I Could Never Be So Lucky Again: An Autobiography. New York: Bantam Books, 1991. ISBN 0-553-58464-2.
  • Emmens, Robert G. Guests of the Kremlin. San Rafael, California: Ishi Press International, 2007. ISBN 0-923891-81-1.
  • Gill, G. Hermon. “Volume II – Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945.” Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1968.
  • Glines, Carroll V. The Doolittle Raid: America’s Daring First Strike Against Japan. New York: Orion Books, 1988. ISBN 0-88740-347-6
  • Doolittle’s Tokyo Raiders. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981, First edition 1968. ISBN 978-0-44202-726-1.
  • Four Came Home: The Gripping Story of the Survivors of Jimmy Doolittle’s Two Lost Crews . New York: Van Nostrad Reinhold, 1981, First edition 1966. ISBN 978-1-57510-007-4.
  • Glover, Charles E. “Jimmy Doolittle’s One Moment in Time.” The Palm Beach Post, 18 April 1992.
  • Lawson, Ted W. and Robert Considine, ed.Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. New York: Random House, Inc., 1943.
  • Martin, Adrian R., and Larry W. Stephenson. Operation Plum: The Ill-fated 27th Bombardment Group and the Fight For the Western Pacific. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 2008. ISBN 1-60344-019-4.
  • Nelson, Craig. The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid—America’s First World War II Victory. London: Penguin Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-14-200341-1.
  • Oxford, Edward. “Against All Odds: B-25 Bombers Strike Japan in 1942.” American History Illustrated, March–April 1992.
  • Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. Miracle at Midway. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982. ISBN 0-07-050672-8.
  • Tillman, Barrett. Enterprise: America’s Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped win World War II. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4391-9087-6.
  • Watson, Charles Hoyt. DeShazer: The Doolittle Raider Who Turned Missionary. Winona Lake, Indiana: The Light and Life Press, 1950.
  • Yamamoto, Masahiro. Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000. ISBN 978-0-2759-6904-2.

#WarriorWednesday: The Original Fly Girls – WWII WASPs Flew With Honor and Courage

WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, called Pistol Packin' Mama, during ferry training at Lockbourne Army Air Force base in Ohio. They're carrying their parachutes.

WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, called Pistol Packin’ Mama, during ferry training at Lockbourne Army Air Force base in Ohio. They’re carrying their parachutes.

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, and leaders gambled on an experimental program to help fill the void: Train women to fly military aircraft so male pilots could be released for combat duty overseas.

The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. In 1944, during the graduation ceremony for the last WASP training class, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Henry “Hap” Arnold, said that when the program started, he wasn’t sure “whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather.”

“Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men,” Arnold said.

A few more than 1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, flew almost every type of military aircraft — including the B-26 and B-29 bombers — as part of the WASP program. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes. And they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting — with live ammunition. The WASP expected to become part of the military during their service. Instead, the program was canceled after just two years.

WASP with a plane named "Miss Fifinella," the mascot designed for the women by Walt Disney Studios

WASP with a plane named “Miss Fifinella,” the mascot designed for the women by Walt Disney Studios

They weren’t granted military status until the 1970s. And now, 65 years after their service, they will receive the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. Congress. In July 2009, a bill was signed awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. The ceremony took place in March of 2010 on Capitol Hill.

Women With Moxie

Margaret Phelan Taylor grew up on a farm in Iowa. She was 19, had just completed two years of college and was ready for adventure in 1943 when a Life magazine cover story on the female pilots caught her eye. Her brother was training to be a pilot with the Army. Why not her? She asked her father to lend her money for a pilot’s license — $500, a huge amount then.

“I told him I had to do it,” Taylor says. “And so he let me have the money. I don’t think I ever did pay it back to him either.”

But there was a problem. She was half an inch shorter than the 5-foot-2-inch requirement.

“I just stood on my tiptoes,” she says. When she arrived at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where most of the WASP were trained, “Well, there were a lot of other short ones just like me, and we laughed about how we got in.”

Short, tall, slim, wide, they all came in knowing how to fly. The military trained male pilots from scratch, but not the female civilian volunteers.

“They didn’t want to bring in a bunch of girls who didn’t know how to fly an airplane,” says Katherine Sharp Landdeck, associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University, who’s writing a book about the WASP, tentatively called Against Prevailing Winds: The Women Airforce Service Pilots and American Society. “So you have women who are getting out of high school and taking every dime they had to learn how to fly so they could be a WASP.”

A Dangerous Job

Once when Taylor was ferrying an aircraft cross-country, somewhere between Arizona and California, she saw smoke in the cockpit. Taylor was trained to bail out if anything went wrong. “But the parachutes were way too big. They weren’t fitted to us,” she says. “The force of that air and that speed and everything, w

Women With Moxie

Margaret Phelan Taylor grew up on a farm in Iowa. She was 19, had just completed two years of college and was ready for adventure in 1943 when a Life magazine cover story on the female pilots caught her eye. Her brother was training to be a pilot with the Army. Why not her? She asked her father to lend her money for a pilot’s license — $500, a huge amount then.

“I told him I had to do it,” Taylor says. “And so he let me have the money. I don’t think I ever did pay it back to him either.”

But there was a problem. She was half an inch shorter than the 5-foot-2-inch requirement.

“I just stood on my tiptoes,” she says. When she arrived at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where most of the WASP were trained, “Well, there were a lot of other short ones just like me, and we laughed about how we got in.”

Short, tall, slim, wide, they all came in knowing how to fly. The military trained male pilots from scratch, but not the female civilian volunteers.

“They didn’t want to bring in a bunch of girls who didn’t know how to fly an airplane,” says Katherine Sharp Landdeck, associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University, who’s writing a book about the WASP, tentatively called Against Prevailing Winds: The Women Airforce Service Pilots and American Society. “So you have women who are getting out of high school and taking every dime they had to learn how to fly so they could be a WASP.”

Margaret Phelan Taylor was a WASP during World War II.

Margaret Phelan Taylor was a WASP during World War II.

A Dangerous Job

Once when Taylor was ferrying an aircraft cross-country, somewhere between Arizona and California, she saw smoke in the cockpit. Taylor was trained to bail out if anything went wrong. “But the parachutes were way too big. They weren’t fitted to us,” she says. “The force of that air and that speed and everything, why that just rips stuff off you. You’d slip right out.”

So her plane was smoking and Taylor faced a defining moment.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I’m not going until I see flame. When I see actual fire, why, then I’ll jump.’ “

Was she scared? “No. I was never scared. My husband used to say, ‘It’s pretty hard to scare you.’ “

The plane’s problem turned out to be a burned-out instrument.

But 38 female pilots did lose their lives serving their country. One was 26-year-old Mabel Rawlinson from Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I’ve always known of her as the family hero,” says Rawlinson’s niece, Pam Pohly, who never knew her aunt. “The one we lost too soon, the one that everyone loved and wished were still around.”

Rawlinson was stationed at Camp Davis in North Carolina. She was coming back from a night training exercise with her male instructor when the plane crashed. Marion Hanrahan, also a WASP at Camp Davis, wrote an eyewitness account:

I knew Mabel very well. We were both scheduled to check out on night flight in the A-24. My time preceded hers, but she offered to go first because I hadn’t had dinner yet. We were in the dining room and heard the siren that indicated a crash. We ran out onto the field. We saw the front of her plane engulfed in fire, and we could hear Mabel screaming. It was a nightmare.

It’s believed that Rawlinson’s hatch malfunctioned, and she couldn’t get out. The other pilot was thrown from the plane and suffered serious injuries. Because Rawlinson was a civilian, the military was not required to pay for her funeral or pay for her remains to be sent home. So — and this is a common story — her fellow pilots pitched in.

“They collected enough money to ship her remains home by train,” says Pohly. “And a couple of her fellow WASP accompanied her casket.”

And, because Rawlinson wasn’t considered military, the American flag could not be draped over her coffin. Her family did it anyway.

Even though she was considered a civilian, Mabel Rawlinson's family draped her coffin with a flag, a tradition reserved for members of the armed forces. Though the funeral appears lightly attended, many were lined up behind the photographer, as seen in the reflection of the car.

Even though she was considered a civilian, Mabel Rawlinson’s family draped her coffin with a flag, a tradition reserved for members of the armed forces. Though the funeral appears lightly attended, many were lined up behind the photographer, as seen in the reflection of the car.

The Program Is Pulled

The head of the WASP program was Jacqueline Cochran, a pioneering aviator. (After the war, she became the first woman to break the sound barrier.) Cochran’s goal was to train thousands of women to fly for the Army, not just a few dozen integrated into the men’s program. She wanted a separate women’s organization and believed militarization would follow if the program was a success. And it was. The women’s safety records were comparable and sometimes even better than their male counterparts doing the same jobs.

But in 1944, historian Landdeck says, the program came under threat. “It was a very controversial time for women flying aircraft. There was a debate about whether they were needed any longer,” Landdeck says.

By the summer of 1944, the war seemed to be ending. Flight training programs were closing down, which meant that male civilian instructors were losing their jobs. Fearing the draft and being put into the ground Army, they lobbied for the women’s jobs.

“It was unacceptable to have women replacing men. They could release men for duty — that was patriotic — but they couldn’t replace men,” Landdeck says.

And so, Arnold announced the program would disband by December 1944, but those who were still in training could finish. The Lost Last Class, as it was dubbed, graduated, but served only 2 1/2 weeks before being sent home on Dec. 20, along with all the other WASP.

Lillian Yonally served her country for more than a year as a WASP. When she was dismissed from her base in California, there was no ceremony. “Not a darn thing. It was told to us that we would be leaving the base. And we hopped airplanes to get back home.” Home for Yonally was across the country in Massachusetts.

That was a familiar story, but Landdeck says there were some bases that did throw parties or had full reviews for their departing WASP.

Lillian Yonally in a 1943 publicity photo at Camp Irwin in California.

Lillian Yonally in a 1943 publicity photo at Camp Irwin in California.

Riling The WASP’s Nest

The women went on with their lives.

A few of them got piloting jobs after the war, but not with any of the major airlines. And some of them stayed in the air as airline stewardesses. In those days, no major commercial airline would hire these experienced women as pilots. Like many World War II veterans, most WASP never talked about their experiences.

And according to Taylor, they never expected anything either.

“We were children of the Depression. It was root hog or die. You had to take care of yourself. Nobody owed us anything,” she says.

The WASP kept in touch for a while. They even formed a reunion group after the war. But that didn’t last long. Then, in the 1960s, they began to find each other again. They had reunions. They started talking about pushing for military status. And then something happened in 1976 that riled the whole WASP’s nest.

“The Air Force comes out and says that they are going to admit women to their flying program,” Landdeck says. An Air Force statement says “it’s the first time that the Air Force has allowed women to fly their aircraft.”

Thirty years later, that comment still upsets former WASP Yonally.

“It was impossible for anybody to say that. That wasn’t true. We were the first ones,” Yonally says.

Margaret Phelan Taylor at her Palo Alto, Calif., home

Margaret Phelan Taylor at her Palo Alto, Calif., home

The fact that the WASP were forgotten by their own Air Force united the women. They lobbied Congress to be militarized. And they persuaded Sen. Barry Goldwater to help. He ferried planes during the war, just as the WASP did. And then, in 1977, the WASP were finally granted military status.

Over the years it has been reported that the WASP records were sealed, stamped classified and unavailable to historians who wrote histories about WWII. According to archivists at the National Archives, military records containing reports about the WASP were treated no differently from other records from the war, which generally meant the WASP records weren’t open to researchers for 30 years. But unlike other stories from the war, the WASP story was rarely told or reported until the 1970s.

“It’s hard to understand that they would be forgotten and difficult to believe that they would be left out of those histories. But even they forgot themselves for a while,” Landdeck says.

In 1992, to preserve their history, the WASP designated Texas Woman’s University in Denton as their official archives.

Yonally is proud to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, 65 years after her service, but she’s sad that fewer than 300 of her 1,100 fellow WASP are alive to receive it.

“I’m sorry that so many girls have passed on. It’s nice the families will receive it, but it doesn’t make up for the gals who knew what they did and weren’t honored that way,” Yonally says.

Taylor is also excited about the medal. She served her country out of loyalty, she says. That was certainly part of it. But the other reason? “I did it for the fun. I was a young girl and everybody had left and it was wartime. You didn’t want to get stuck in a hole in Iowa; you wanted to see what was going on.”

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