Doolittle ``Tokyo Raiders’‘by Senator Sherrod Brown
Posted on 2013-03-06
BROWN. Madam President, I rise to recognize the lasting
contributions of 80 courageous Americans who participated in the
Doolittle raid, our Nation's first offensive action on Japan's soil
during the Second World War. I am pleased to have Senator Boozman as
the lead Republican of an effort to ensure these men have the
recognition they deserve. Together, we introduced S. 381, which will
award the surviving airmen, known as the Doolittle Raiders, with the
Congressional Gold Medal. Senator Boozman's collaboration reiterates
that bipartisan support for our veterans endures in this body. Joining
us as original cosponsors are Senators Murray, Tester, Baucus, Nelson,
Cantwell, and Schatz.
As chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee during the last session, Senator Murray also cosponsored last year's resolution. We are grateful for her leadership. Our colleague Senator Lautenberg, the sole World War II veteran serving in the Senate, is also a cosponsor.
Some 16 million Americans served this country during World War II. Today their average age is 92. These survivors have earned the respect of a grateful Nation. Now is the time for us to act to honor them.
On April 18, 1942, 80 American airmen volunteered for an unknown assignment. These sons, fathers, and brothers accepted what they only knew to be ``an extremely hazardous mission.'' They were led by Lt. Col. James ``Jimmy'' Doolittle, a one-time flight instructor at Wright Field in Dayton, OH, in my home State. He also studied at Kelly Field and McCook Field in Ohio.
The Doolittle Raid was the first time the Army Air Corps and the Navy collaborated on a tactical mission. These pilots flew 16 U.S. Army Air Corps B-25 Mitchell bombers from the deck of the USS Hornet into combat, a feat that had never been before attempted.
On the morning of the raid, the USS Hornet was discovered by Japanese picket ships. Fearing the mission [[Page S1147]] might be compromised, the Raiders launched 170 miles earlier than planned. The earlier launch meant these men now had to travel over 650 miles to their intended targets, leaving them with the possibility of running out of enough fuel to land beyond the Japanese lines in occupied China.
Accepting this choice meant the Raiders would almost certainly have to crash land or bail out either above Japanese-occupied China or over the home islands of Japan. Any survivor would certainly be subjected to imprisonment, torture or death.
After reaching their targets, 15 of the bombers continued to China, while the 16th--whose plane was dangerously low on fuel--headed to Russia.
The total distance traveled by the Raiders was about 2,250 nautical miles over a period of 13 hours, making it the longest combat mission ever flown in a B-25 during the war.
Of the 80 Raiders who launched that day, 8 were captured--3 of them were executed, 1 died of disease, and 4 of these prisoners survived and returned home after the war. Of the original 80, 4 are still with us today. They are residents of Montana, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington State.
There was a fifth, MAJ Tom Griffin of Cincinnati, OH. On the evening of February 26, just 1 week ago--the date I introduced this legislation--Major Griffin of Cincinnati passed away surrounded by family and friends. His family lost a loved one, our Nation lost a hero.
The remaining four Raiders will be commemorating the 71st anniversary of this raid this coming April in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Now is the time to award these survivors the Congressional Medal. Their valor, their skill, their courage proved invaluable to the morale of our country on that day more than 70 years ago and the eventual defeat of Japan in the Second World War. These men continue to remind us of the quiet determination and that uncommon valor in the face of sheer danger.
I humbly ask my colleagues to join us in this bill in honoring the Doolittle Raiders.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.