On April 18, 1942, James Doolittle led a daring raid over Tokyo. Wikipedia describes it thus:

The Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese home islands during World War II. The mission was notable in that it was the only operation in which United States Army Air Forces bombers were launched from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. It was the longest combat mission ever flown by the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. The Doolittle Raid demonstrated that the Japanese home islands were vulnerable to Allied air attack and it provided an expedient outlet for U.S. retaliation for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, already a famous civilian aviator and aeronautical engineer before the war. The raid, however, had its roots in the mind of Navy Captain Francis Low, who early in the war predicted that, under the right conditions, twin-engined Army bombers could be successfully launched from an aircraft carrier. Subsequent calculations by Doolittle indicated that the B-25 Mitchell could be launched from a carrier with a reasonable bomb load, hit military targets in Japan, and fly on to land in China.

Michelle and I interviewed some of the surviving raiders and sailors who helped get the mission airborne on Veterans Day last year.

I spent my Air Force years mostly in Tokyo, and much of that time at one of the bases that Doolittle’s Raiders struck. So it was a thrill to meet such legends and heroes.

Tags: China