The 80th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid was celebrated through several base events including a heritage flight, the dedication of a JASSM to a local museum, as well as a toast and tail flash unveiling.
In the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor Attack, the 34th flew anti-submarine warfare patrols in the Pacific Northwest from Dec. 22, 1941 to c. March 1942. It was reassigned to Lexington County Airport, South Carolina, on Feb. 9, 1942 in order to meet the greater threat from German submarines operating off the East Coast. At that time, the only B-25s in service were with the 17th Bombardment Group.
Planning for a retaliatory bombing raid on Japan began in December 1941. Twenty-four B-25Bs were diverted from the 17th Bombardment Group, and volunteers from all three squadrons (34th, 37th and 95th) were recruited, the crews being told only that this was going to be a secret and very dangerous mission against heavy odds. The volunteers moved to Eglin Field in Florida for training. Still not knowing what kind of mission they were training for, the crews practiced making takeoffs in as short a distance as possible. Upon completion of training, seventeen crews left Eglin Field, for McClellan Field in California for final modifications to the B-25s before moving to Naval Air Station Alameda, where the bombers were loaded on the USS Hornet (CV-8) and the men of the Doolittle Raider task force departed on Apr. 2, 1942.
On Apr. 18, 1942, 200 volunteers delivered the first long-range strike of World War II. Led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle, 80 Raiders in 16 B-25 Bombers took off from the deck of the USS Hornet.
“Today is a historic day,” said Col. Joseph Sheffield, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “Today we commemorate the brave and bold Raiders of the past, the dedication and sacrifice of the original Doolittle Raiders.”
As told by Staff Sgt. Hannah Malone, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs, in the article Ellsworth celebrates 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, the day’s events began with the unveiling of a Joint Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM) dedication at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. The missile was dedicated on the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid in honor of the Apr. 14, 2018 mission to Barzah, Syria. During this mission, 19 JASSM were used in the first combat employment of the weapon.
“As threats have evolved, so too has the B-1 mission,” said Sheffield. “However, there are some things that have remained the same for a long time now. For Ellsworth Air Force Base, the Raider heritage courses through the very construct of our mission. Over the past 80 years, we have continued to build and expand upon the same qualities that made them so successful during World War II.”
The event included a speech from Becky Thatcher-Keller, daughter of David J. Thatcher, an original member of Crew 7 during the Doolittle Raid. After her speech, she was honored with giving the final toast to a room filled with members of the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons.
Finally, new B-1B Lancer tail art dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid was revealed on aircraft 85-0060. The tail art consists of a B-25, a Doolittle Raiders patch, and patches from the five participating Doolittle Raid Squadrons.
“We are proud to be called Raiders, not because of one event, but more for what it means to be a Raider,” said Master Sergeant Michael Bowser, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent. “A heritage aircraft paint scheme is an excellent example of our professionalism, lineage, and at the same time, shows our local community our Air Force branding as Raiders.”
A quote added on the nose of the B-1B read, “In remembrance of the Doolittle Raiders.”
Photo credit: Senior Airman Austin McIntosh and Airman 1st Class Adam Olson / U.S. Air Force
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