Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Congressional Gold Medal Presentation Ceremony

The aircraft carrier Hornet had 16 AAF B-25s on deck, ready for the Tokyo Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The aircraft carrier Hornet had 16 AAF B-25s on deck, ready for the Tokyo Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The aircraft carrier Hornet had 16 AAF B-25s on deck, ready for the Tokyo Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PRESS RELEASE – DAYTON, Ohio – Seventy-three years ago, 80 men achieved the unimaginable when they took off from an aircraft carrier on a top secret mission to bomb Japan. These men, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.In recognition of their outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States military service during World War II, the “Doolittle Tokyo Raiders” will be awarded a Congressional Gold Medal on April 15 by leaders of the U.S. House and Senate.  The medal, the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow, will be presented to the National Museum of the United States Air Force by Raider, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, during a ceremony at the museum on Saturday, April 18, the 73rd anniversary of the raid. Raider Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher is also planning to attend.

 Today, just three of the men survive: Cole, co-pilot of Crew No. 1; Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, co-pilot of Crew No. 16; and Thatcher, engineer-gunner of Crew No. 7.The medal will be on permanent display at the museum following the ceremony as part of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders diorama which features a North American B-25 on the simulated deck of the USS Hornet.Public interested in attending the ceremony and reception can purchase tickets through the Air Force Museum Foundation. Tickets will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 24 at http://www.afmuseum.com/doolittle. Only 400 tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. No phone or walk-in orders will be accepted.

Each year since the end of World War II, with the exception of 1951, the Doolittle Raiders have held an annual reunion. The museum had the privilege of hosting the Raiders in April 1965 (23rd), 1999 (57th), 2006 (64th), 2010 (68th) and 2012 (70th) and also hosted Cole, Thatcher and Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylorduring their final toast to their fallen comrades on Nov. 9, 2013.“Given our mission, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force provides the most appropriate home for the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Congressional Gold Medal,” said Museum Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson. “It is important to pay tribute to the Doolittle Raiders for uplifting the spirits of all Americans and for their supreme example of courage, professionalism, creativity, leadership and patriotism. Here at the museum, their story will live on to continue to educate and inspire future generations of Airmen and visitors from around the world.”

On 18 April 1942, airmen of the US Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack against these major cities was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the US Navy, which carried the sixteen North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands. Here, a pair of alert escorts follow the USS Hornet to protect her lethal cargo of B-25 bombers. (U.S. Air Force Photo)
On 18 April 1942, airmen of the US Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack against these major cities was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the US Navy, which carried the sixteen North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands. Here, a pair of alert escorts follow the USS Hornet to protect her lethal cargo of B-25 bombers. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

 The raid, which took place on April 18, 1942, was an extremely important event in the development of American air power. It marked the first combat use of strategic bombardment by the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. While the attack itself caused little actual damage to Japanese war industry, the psychological impact on the Japanese military and the American public proved to be immense. It forced the Japanese military to pull forces back from the front lines to protect the home islands and showed Americans that the war could be won. The U.S. Air Force has drawn upon the Doolittle Raiders for inspiration ever since.In honor of these World War II aviation heroes, the Air Force Museum Theatre will show “The Doolittle Raid: A Mission that Changed the War” with guest speaker Cindy Chal, daughter of Cole, on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18 at 4 pm each day. Chal will speak following the 60-minute film. The Air Force Museum Store will also offer book signings throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.

 About The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.The theatre and store are operated by the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., a Section 501(c)(3) private, non-profit organization that assists the Air Force in the development and expansion of the facilities of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  For more information on the Air Force Museum Foundation, visit www.airforcemuseum.com.  The Air Force Museum Foundation is not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and it has no governmental status.

Click on the images to buy the book “Destination Tokio” signed by Jimmy Doolittle and the print “Payback Time” signed by Dick Cole.

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3 Comments

  1. Except……the Doolittle raid launched from the hornet on April 18th, 1942. Other than that, good article, guys

  2. They probably read the ceremony date of the 17th or Gold Medal ceremony of April 15tg. This no doubt caused the need to point out someone else’s error. Unless it was modified I only read launch dates of the 18th. I’ve dealt with such mentality for 30+ years. Good job, carry on

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  1. Doolittle Raider, Lt. Robert Hite, dies at age 95

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