In 1942, The USA needed something that told us we could win the war with Japan. We were down in the gutter with morale after Pearl Harbor.
Our planes could not reach Japan and return, so 80 men including Colonel Doolittle, volunteered to take some B-25 bombers and head for Tokyo. Knowing they had enough fuel to get there but not enough to come back. There was the possibility of getting to China, but it was very slim.
This crew was from the “Whirling Dervish”.
Pilot Lt. H.F. Watson
Co-Pilot Lt. J.M. Parker Jr.
Navigator Lt. T.C. Griffin (remember that name)
Bombardier Sgt. W.M. Bissell
Engineer Gunner Tsgt. E.V. Scott
These men took that chance.They bombed Tokyo , and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed. Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia.
Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." They had their final reunion last month, only 4 of them left.
To me, as a boy, those were heroes, but let me tell you about one of the men, Tom Griffin. He survived the flight and ended up in another theater of the war and being shot down in Germany and spending 22 months as a POW. He survived, he was a hero. BUT that is not what I am here to tell you.
In 2002 Tom’s wife became very ill. She was put in a nursing home. Every day he walked to see her, to feed her to take care of her. Taking the soiled clothes home, washing and ironing them, to return them the next day. Every day for three years until her death. THAT MY FRIENDS IS THE MARK OF THE TRUE HERO. That characteristic was in Doolittle Raiders. That selflessness was what made America’s military great. It enabled us to rise from near defeat to become victorious. Tom died this past February at the age of 96.
He asked nothing special, seldom talked about the escapades, just a soldier doing his part. AND in the end just a husband meeting a promised responsibility.
(from our picture window)
Thanks for coming by the log.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, both sexes, all races and ages. Not every hero is known, but usually the ones on which the effort was spent, remembers them. Those girls who were held captive will always remember someone coming to their aid once they were able to get someone’s attention.
What is that up front, could it be a 1941 Chevrolet Coupe?
Yes and a young couple, she waved wildly as we passed. A beautiful restoration.