16 B-25s go to Tokyo

Posted: Sunday, April 18, 2010 by Travis Cody in

Sometimes a post hits it right the first time, and so I am returning to the commemorative essay I wrote last year to honor the 79 men who flew to Tokyo with Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle to prove that the Japanese homeland was vulnerable, and to give the US a morale boost after a series of devastating defeats in the Pacific.

On 18 April 1942, 68 years ago, Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle led 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers off the carrier deck of USS Hornet in a raid against Toyko. Although damage was modest, the impact on American morale was immense. Click here to read a complete account.

Lt. Colonel Doolittle and his 79 volunteers proved that the Japanese homeland was not invulnerable to attack. They also forced the Japanese to recall a number of fighter squadrons to protect the island from further incursion.

The sleeping giant Yamamoto feard was awake, pissed off, and fiercely determined to take the fight to the Japanese.

Today I pay tribute to the 80 men who accepted the challenge to fly those bombers, knowing that they would barely have enough fuel to make it to China to land after the raid. Because the task force was spotted by a Japanese picket boat, the flight launched 10 hours early and 170 miles farther away from Japan than originally planned.

Plane 40-2344, 34th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over N Chuchow, China

Lt Col James H Doolittle, pilot (14 Dec 1896 - 27 Sept 1993)
Lt Richard E Cole, co-pilot (Born 7 Sept 1915)
Lt Henry A Potter, navigator (Died27 May 2002)
S/Sgt Fred A Braemer, bombardier (Died 2 Feb 1989)
S/Sgt Paul J Leonard, engineer-gunner (KIA Africa 5 Jan 1943)

Plane 40-2292, 37th Squadron, 17th Group
Crash landed Ningpo, China

Lt Travis Hoover, pilot (21 Sept 1917 - 17 Jan 2004)
Lt William N Fitzhugh, co-pilot (Died 31 Aug 1981)
Lt Carl R Wildner, navigator (Died 7 Mar 1994)
Lt Richard E Miller, bombardier (KIA Africa 22 Jan 1943)
Sgt Douglas V Radney, engineer-gunner (Died 28 Jan 1994)

Plane 40-2270, 95th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over SE Chuchow, China

Lt Robert M Gray, pilot (KIA enroute India to China 18 Oct 1942)
Lt Jacob E Manch, co-pilot (Killed bailing out of T-33 Nevada 24 Mar 1958)
Lt Charles J Ozuk, navigator
Sgt Aden E Jones, bombardier (Died 9 Mar 1983)
Cpl Leland D Faktor, engineer-gunner (KIA bailing out China 18 Apr 1942)

Plane 40-2282, 95th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over SE Shangjao, China

Lt Everett W Holstom, pilot (Died 2 Dec 2000)
Lt Lucian N Younglbood, co-pilot (Killed 28 Feb 1949)
Lt Harry C McCool, navigator (Died 1 Feb 2003)
Sgt Robert J Stephens, bombardier (Died 13 Apr 1959)
Cpl Bert M Jordan, gunner (Died 3 Apr 2001)

Plane 40-2283, 95th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over SW Chuchow, China

Capt David M Jones, pilot (deceased)
Lt Rodney R Wilder, co-pilot (Died 7 June 1964)
Lt Eugene F McGurl, navigator (KIA Burma 3 June 1942)
Lt Denver V Truelove, bombardier (KIA Sicily 5 Apr 1943)
Sgt Joseph W Manske, engineer-gunner (Died 4 Apr 1998)

Plane 40-2298, 95th Squadron, 17th Group
Ditched off Wenchu, China

Lt Dean E Hallmark, pilot (Executed by Japanese 15 Oct 1942)
Lt Robert J Meder, co-pilot (Died in Japanese POW camp 1 Dec 1943)
Lt Col Chase Jay Nielsen, navigator (Died 23 Mar 2007)
Sgt William J Dieter, bombardier (Drowned 18 Apr 1942)
Sgt Donald E Fitzmaurice, engineer-gunner (Drowned 18 Apr 1942)

Plane 40-2261, 95th Squadron, 17th Group
Ditched off Shangchow, China

Lt Ted W Lawson, pilot (Died 19 Jan 1992)
Lt Dean Davenport, co-pilot (Died 14 Feb 2000)
Lt Charles L McClure, navigator (Died 1 Jan 1999(
Lt Robert S Clever, bombardier (Killed in US 20 Nov 1942)
Sgt David J Thatcher, engineer-gunner

Plane 40-2242, 95th Squadron, 17th Group
Landed in Primorsky Krai, Siberia

Capt Edward J York, pilot (Died 31 Aug 1984)
Lt Robert G Emmens, co-pilot (Died 2 Apr 1992)
Lt Nolan A Herndon, navigator-bombardier (Died 7 Oct 2007)
S/Sgt Theodore H Laban, engineer (Died 16 Sept 1978)
Sgt David W Pohl, gunner (Died 18 Feb 1999)

Plane 40-2303, 34th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over S Nanchang, China

Lt Harold F Watson, pilot (Died 14 Sept 1991)
Lt James N Parker Jr, co-pilot (Died 19 June 1991)
Lt Thomas C Griffin, navigator
Sgt Wayne M Bissell, bombardier (Died 9 Jan 1997)
T/Sgt Eldred V Scott, engineer-gunner (Died 31 July 1978)

Plane 40-2250, 89th Recon Squadron
Bailed out over NE Chuchow, China

Lt Richard O Joyce, pilot (Died 13 Feb 1983)
Lt J Royden Stork, co-pilot (Died 2 May 2002)
Lt Horace E Crouch, navigator-bombardier (Died 21 Dec 2005)
Sgt George F Larkin Jr, flight engineer (KIA India to China 18 Oct 1942)
S/Sgt Edwin W Horton Jr, gunner (deceased)

Plane 40-2249, 89th Recon Squadron
Bailed out over NE Chuchow, China

Capt C Ross Greening, pilot (Died 29 Mar 1957)
Lt Kenneth E Reddy, co-pilot (Killed in US 3 Sept 1942)
Lt Frank A Kappeler, navigator
S/Sgt William L Birch, bombardier (Died 18 Nov 2006)
Sgt Melvin J Gardner, engineer-gunner (KIA Burma 3 June 1942)

Plane 40-2278, 37th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over NE Chuchow, China

Lt William M Bower, pilot
Lt Thadd H Blanton, co-pilot (Died 27 Sept 1961)
Lt William R Pound Jr, navigator (Died 13 July 1967)
T/Sgt Waldo J Bither, bombardier (Died 25 Feb 1988)
S/Sgt Omer A Duquette, engineer-gunner (KIA Burma 3 June 1942)

Plane 40-2247, 37th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over N Nanchang, China

Lt Edgar E McElroy, pilot (Died 4 Apr 2003)
Lt Richard A Knobloch, co-pilot (Died 13 Aug 2001)
Lt Clayton J Campbell, navigator (Died 17 Nov 2002)
Sgt Robert C Bourgeois, bombardier (Died 13 Nov 2001)
Sgt Adam R Williams, engineer-gunner (Died 30 Nov 1993)

Plane 40-2297, 89th Recon Squadron
Bailed out over SE Shangjao, China

Maj John A Hilger, pilot (Died 3 Feb 1982)
Lt Jack A Sims, co-pilot (Died 9 June 2007)
Lt James H Macia Jr, navigator-bombardier (Died 21 Dec 2009)
S/Sgt Jacob Eierman, engineer (Died 16 Jan 1994)
S/Sgt Edwin V Bain, gunner (KIA Rome 19 July 1943)

Plane 40-2267, 89th Recon Squadron
Ditched off Shangchow, China

Lt Donald G Smith, pilot (KIA Britain 12 Nov 1942)
Lt Griffith P Williams, co-pilot (Died 14 July 1998)
Lt Howard A Sessler, navigator-bombardier (Died 9 Feb 2001)
Sgt Edward J Saylor, engineer
Lt (Dr) Thomas R White, gunner (Died 29 Nov 1992)

Plane 40-2268, 34th Squadron, 17th Group
Bailed out over Ningpo, China

Lt William G Farrow, pilot (Executed by Japanese 15 Oct 1942)
Lt Robert L Hite, co-pilot
Lt George Barr, navigator (Died 12 July 1967)
Cpl Jacob DeShazer, bombardier (Died 15 Mar 2008)
Sgr Harold A Spatz, engineer-gunner (Executed by Japanese 15 Oct 1942)

At each reunion, the surviving crew members perform a roll call and then drink a toast to the Raiders who have passed since they last met. Each man has a special silver goblet engraved with his name. The goblets of those Raiders who have passed are turned down. As of Dec 2009, there were eight Raiders still living.

A final toast between the last two surviving Raiders will be with a bottle of vintage Hennessy cognac from the year of Colonel Doolittle's birth, 1896. The bottle and the goblets have traveled to each reunion since 1960.

Gentlemen, you have my profound gratitude for your service and your sacrifice.

Let me also recognize the 57 US Army maintenance crew, without whom the planes could not have been properly prepared to succeed.

And lest we forget...the crews of USS Hornet, USS Enterprise, and Task Force 18 cruised into harm's way with the precious tonnage of an American Navy still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor just a few short months before.


  1. Jeni says:

    Thanks Travis, for reposting this tribute to a truly brave group of men and to the excellent support teams they had to back them. As a child, I can remember watching (on tv) the movie "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" which, if I am correct, was about this air attack and how it was a turning point for the US in that horrific war. Keep posting things like this so that we may never forget what these men did that we could maintain our freedoms to this day and for future generations to come as well.

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    Great post, Trav! I love how you honored each and every name. Have you seen Pearl Harbor? One of my fave movies of all times.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    It's good that people remember.

  1. What a wonderful tribute to these men... may we never forget those who serve in our military, and especially those during times of war.

  1. Thank you for this posting again! I enjoyed it the fiest time and enjoyed it again.I thing if history is forgotten we are doomed to repeat it.

  1. Travis says:

    Jeni: I think these are some of my favorite posts. I enjoy the research and trying to understand different things about the events each time I approach them.

    Ivanhoe: I have seen that movie. It's enjoyable, although it plays a bit loose with the facts.

    Akelamalu: I think it's important.

    Lois: I certainly will always remember.

    Mike: Agreed.