Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raidersby Representative Michael E. Capuano
Posted on 2014-05-19
CAPUANO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
To be perfectly honest, I am shocked that Congress hasn't already done this--absolutely shocked. This should have been done in 1943.
The Doolittle Raid was the most important military event of its time. For those of you who don't understand it, right after Pearl Harbor, being attacked, at the time, by the strongest military in the world at the top of their game, they did catch us by surprise and destroyed our Pacific fleet.
We were sitting back trying to regroup, trying to get it going, trying to get troops going. How do we hit back? How do we prove that we can do this? The Doolittle Raid was all about that.
As you heard, a previous speaker said ``volunteers.'' Now, they were professional military, but they volunteered for this mission. Why were they asked to volunteer? Because everyone saw this as a death sentence. Nobody really thought they would ever come back. Why? Because the planes they flew were bombers, heavy bombers for those days--small compared to what we have today--flying off of aircraft carriers that, again, in today's Navy wouldn't be anything. Small aircraft carriers.
No one had ever taken a bomber off of an aircraft carrier prior to this raid. No one had ever done it. No one thought it could be done. They got within a certain mileage of Japan beyond where they were supposed to go. They were told bomb Japan, land in China. Not enough fuel to get back.
Any mission, like anything else, especially in days before good navigational tools, a lot of fuel was burned that wasn't planned on. None of them made it to their fields. Most of them crash-landed. As you heard, several of them died.
That raid took all of America and lifted our spirits. Well documented. That is why I am shocked that we are here today. Well documented. It took the entire country and made us feel like, we can do this, we can do it now, even when we are unprepared. If we can do this now, imagine what we can do when we get prepared.
The Doolittle Raid gave us the courage and the commitment to win that war. Those men were true heroes in every sense of the word. The fact that we are here today is an honor for me, but honestly, I think it is something that is well long overdue.
For those who are still living, I want to add my thanks to their bravery. Without them, I think it would have been a much longer war and a much more disheartening year or so before we really engaged in a military action that we could win.
With that, I thank the sponsor of this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.