Doolittle Raiders honored in 79th anniversary event
By Airman Jonah Fronk, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 18, 2021
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
An event memorializing the 79th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid was held in the Dakota’s Club ballroom at Ellsworth Air Force Base on April 16.
In attendance were members of the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons and the 89th Attack Squadron, as all of these units participated in the original Doolittle Raid operation.
The mission took place on April 18, 1942, after Japanese forces launched a surprise bombing on Pearl Harbor. Then-Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, was tasked in leading and training the men who volunteered for this operation.
“All 80 aircrew who participated in the raid were volunteers and launched from an aircraft carrier knowing they most likely didn’t have enough fuel to make it to their final destination in China,” said 1st Lt. Paul Mueller, a 34th Bomb Squadron pilot. “[They] would most likely have to either bailout or crash-land and hope for rescue.”
Sixteen planes launched from the USS Hornet, 15 of which crash-landed in China. The remaining plane landed in the Soviet Union, where the crew was promptly captured as prisoners of war.
In remembrance of these courageous men, Mueller read the names of all 16 crews who participated in the raid. Following the recital of the names, all of those in attendance at the 79th anniversary ceremony toasted in remembrance of the fallen -- a tradition inspired by the last two Doolittle Raiders.
“The last Doolittle Raider, retired Col. Richard ‘Dick’ Cole passed away in 2019,” said Mueller. “Ellsworth continues to honor the Doolittle Raiders by continuing this tradition and remembering their service.”