Many free events planned for Doolittle Raiders reunion

The public will have an opportunity to celebrate the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders as the World War II aviation heroes commemorate the 70th anniversary of the raid on Japan during their reunion, April 17-20, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

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. “Jimmy” Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

At this time, all five of the living Doolittle Tokyo Raiders — Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole; Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor; Maj. Thomas C. Griffin and Master Sgt. David J. Thatcher — are able to travel and plan to be on-hand for the reunion events.

The full reunion schedule features plans for many free events, including two autograph sessions, a memorial service, and B-25 flyover.

In addition, the film “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” will be shown for free in the museum’s Carney Auditorium on April 18.

The public will also be invited to purchase tickets to attend two lunches and an evening banquet with the Raiders. Seating is limited and additional information on how to purchase tickets will be released in February.

As a special tribute to the Raiders during the reunion, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, Inc. is working to secure enough sponsorship funding to fly in and land 25 B-25 Mitchell bombers on the runway behind the museum. If their efforts are successful, this aviation event would be the largest gathering of B-25s since World War II.

Those interested in helping to make this flight of B-25 bombers possible should contact Tom Casey with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, Inc. at 941-921-7361 or by email at: tomcat911@comcast.net or Larry Kelley at 410-991-2356 or by email at: b25driver@aol.com.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free.

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