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Doolittle Raiders honored in 79th anniversary event

First Lt. Lance Badoni, a 37th Bomb Squadron weapon systems officer, speaks to the history of the Doolittle Raid during a remembrance ceremony on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2021. The operation originally took place on April 18, 1942 after Japanese forces launched a surprise bombing on Pearl Harbor.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

First Lt. Lance Badoni, a 37th Bomb Squadron weapon systems officer, speaks to the history of the Doolittle Raid during a remembrance ceremony on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2021. The operation originally took place on April 18, 1942 after Japanese forces launched a surprise bombing on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

A 28th Bomb Wing Honor Guard member posts the U.S. flag during the 79th Doolittle Raid anniversary ceremony on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2021. The Doolittle Raid took place on April 18, 1942, after Japanese forces launched a surprise bombing on Pearl Harbor. 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

A 28th Bomb Wing Honor Guard member posts the U.S. flag during the 79th Doolittle Raid anniversary ceremony on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2021. The Doolittle Raid took place on April 18, 1942, after Japanese forces launched a surprise bombing on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Jeffery VanCuren, the National Sojourners Black Hills Chapter secretary, recites a speech of endearment toward the U.S. flag during a 79th Doolittle Raid anniversary event at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2021.  The Doolittle Raid was conducted 133 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Jeffery VanCuren, the National Sojourners Black Hills Chapter secretary, recites a speech of endearment toward the U.S. flag during a 79th Doolittle Raid anniversary event at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2021. The Doolittle Raid was conducted 133 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

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.”

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