Nearly 75 years ago, the 13th Bomber Squadron was anxious to take the fight back to the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their only issue? They were without any aircraft. Forward deployed at the time to Brisbane, Australia, the 13thBomber Squadron pitched tents and questioned how they were to fight without their beloved A-20 Havoc medium bombers.
The commanding officer at the time, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Bob Strickland, called the Far East Air Force (FEAF) headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, pleading with the higher headquarters to get his men planes. Their response to Strickland: The unit would be getting B-25 Mitchells and they were inbound. Unfortunately, two weeks later, those planes never made it to the 13th Bomber Squadron. In fact, the Dutch Air Force ended up receiving the planes. So with no planes and a desire to get in the fight, the grim reapers did what they had to. They “appropriated” the planes from the Dutch. The 13th crafted some authorization paperwork stating the planes belonged to the U.S., then 24 members of the 13th BS “tactfully appropriated” the B-25s and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now the 13th Bomber Squadron comes full circle as they took advantage of the Commemorative Air Force Missouri Wing’s B-25 Mitchell “Show Me” being present at the 2017 Scott Air Force Base (AFB), Illinois air show and had the B-25 fly to Whiteman AFB, Missouri. Working with the Commemorative Air Force , the Grim Reapers waltzed out to the flightline at Whiteman and placed their reaper logo over the “Show me” logo of the CAF B-25 and claimed the aircraft as their own. The B-25s the 13th Bomber Squadron took control of during World War II would go on to fly vital combat missions in the Pacific. The 13th Bomber Squadron continued to fly combat missions through the Korean War, logged their 1000th combat sortie during Vietnam, participated in the Global War on Terror while flying B-1 Lancers, and the Grim Reapers proudly led the fight against ISIS when the B-2 Spirit bomber launched from Whiteman in January of this year and struck targets in Libya. Despite their old age, the Grim Reapers clearly still have what it takes to get the mission done and will always be ready to take the fight to the enemy.