Events commemorate 75th anniversary of Doolittle raid

  • Published
  • By Amy Rollins
  • Skywrighter Staff

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --  A number of public events will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid April 17-18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

On April 18, 1942, 80 men achieved the unimaginable when they took off from an aircraft carrier on a top-secret mission to bomb Japan. These men, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

Today, just one of the men survives: Richard E. Cole, a retired lieutenant colonel who served as Doolittle’s co-pilot on Crew No. 1. Cole, now 101 years old, plans to return to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to participate in the commemoration events and pay tribute to fellow Raider Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, who passed away in 2016.

Plans include 13 B-25 bombers on static display on the runway behind the museum on April 17-18, a B-25 flyover prior to the start of a memorial service on April 18, a B-1 flyover at the conclusion of the memorial service and book signings by several authors.

These events are free and open to the public; all outdoor events are weather dependent.

Below is the schedule of events:

April 17

■ Thirteen privately owned B-25 Mitchell bombers from around the country are scheduled to land on the runway behind the museum and be placed on static display from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

April 18

■ B-25 Mitchell bombers are available for public view from 9 a.m. until noon, followed by a flyover at about 2:15 p.m.

■ Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’ memorial service in Memorial Park. The memorial service will take place indoors in the event of inclement weather.

■ 2 B-1 bombers from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, will participate in a high-speed flyover, weather dependent, at about 3:15 p.m. Aircrews from these same squadrons helped launch the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. The flyover will offer visitors a unique opportunity to witness the speed and power of two variable-sweep wing supersonic bombers as they fly by at a speed of 0.9 Mach and then ascend into an unrestricted climb.

■ The Air Force Museum Foundation’s Living History Film Series, presented by W. Craig Willan, will feature “Doolittle’s Raiders: The Final Toast,” in the Air Force Museum Theatre at 6:30 p.m. The event will be opened by Richard Cole. Following the film screening, two of the Raiders’ children – Cindy Cole Chal and Jim Bower – will share stories and insight and conduct a question and answer session with the audience. Tickets for this event have been sold out.

In addition, the Air Force Museum Store will host several authors including Stan Cohen (“Destination Tokyo”); Frank Goldstein (“The Last Reunion: A Salute to The Jimmy Doolittle Tokyo Raiders”); Dennis Okerstrom (“Dick Cole’s War: Doolittle Raider, Hump Pilot, Air Commando”); and James Scott “Target Tokyo,” who will be available to sign copies of their books. The store will also have commemorative merchandise available to purchase. Federal endorsement is not implied.

Further information on the entire event schedule, along with photos and videos of past Raider events at the museum is available at