Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Doolittle Raid on Japan

On this date in 1942, Lt. Col. James Doolittle led an air raid on military targets in the Japan homeland (known as the "Doolittle Raid") in retaliation for the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor earlier on December 7. Sixteen B-25 bombers were launched on a 1-way mission from the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CV-8). All the planes were lost, and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured in this heroic attack (3 were executed by Japanese captors in China).* Militarily it didn't accomplish a great deal as part of the Pacific Theater of World War II, but it did signal to Japan that it was vulnerable to an American attack by air. The raid also boosted American morale in the war effort.

Doolittle and his crew
Source: Wing Commander CIG Forums

The carrier USS Enterprise was part of the escort group that accompanied the USS Hornet and the B-25 bombers on board that participated in Doolittle’s Raid. Later, my Dad will be part of Vestal's crew that will repair Enterprise during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 12-15, 1942.

*An interesting side note is the compelling story of Jacob DeShazer, one of Doolittle's Raiders, who was captured in China. For the next 3 years, he paid a heavy price for his bravery as the Japanese beat, tortured, and starved him as a war criminal. DeShazer recounts his experiences as a POW. Read his account in "Finding Forgiveness: Former Doolittle Raider, POW Shares Experiences."

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