April 18, 2015 marked the 73rd Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. The raid, occurring five months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, certainly helped revive American spirits that had been downcast since December 7th and continued to plummet as Japan won the early stages of the war in the Pacific.
From a strategic military viewpoint, it was a stroke of genius – mixed with a heavy dose of courage. The Japanese, and many Americans, wondered how in the world did we strike the Japanese mainland with our bombers, when the Americans had no land bases near enough to strike “The Land of the Rising Sun”? Additionally, everyone “knew” that a B-25 needed a long runway from which to takeoff. President Roosevelt, answered the question with a simple reply and a twinkle in his eye, “Shangri-La”.
Below I include several links to stories for those unfamiliar with the mission. But I would like to take a moment to share a personal reflection. There are many things that I loved (and some that I hated) about being a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. One of the loves was wandering around looking at the statues, the pictures and awards and wondering about the men who had earned them.
One display that caught my eye was a set of goblets nestled in a display case in Arnold Hall. Many were right side up, but several (in the 1980s) were upside down. I read the description included in the case beside the goblets and a lone bottle. The goblets and bottle are described in the links below. I thought someday, there will be only two of these brave men left. I wondered, “How will they feel when they drink that toast — and how sad it will be when there are only two left”. That someday is now and it is sad. Those two were part of a formation full of courage that represents millions of the greatest generation.
70th Doolittle Reunion (3 years ago)
Congressional Gold Medal