Tuesday marks the 75th anniversary of the World War II Doolittle Raid

Tom Hinde

75 years ago today on Saturday, April 18, 1942 16 B-25 bombers manned by a total of 80 men launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Their target was the Japanese Home Islands. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle. The Doolittle Raid had three primary goals. The first goal was to demonstrate Japan was vulnerable. Secondly, to retaliate for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Finally, the raid was designed to boost American morale.

The raid did little damage but achieved its mission goals. Three crewmen died in the attack. Eight more were captured. Of those captured, three were executed and 1 died in captivity. Colonel Doolittle received the Medal of Honor. Doolittle initially thought he would be court-marshaled since the raid did little damage and all planes were lost. All 80 of the men who flew the mission were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Today, at age 101, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole is the sole survivor of the original 80-member group.