The 31st Annual Florida International Air Show taking place in Punta Gorda, Fla., March 26-27, will host a “Commemorative Gathering” between three surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and special guests representing the People’s Republic of China.
On April 18, 1942, 16 North American B-25B twin engine bombers and 80 U.S. Army Air Corps airmen took off from an aircraft carrier (USS Hornet CV-8) in the Pacific, with a top secret mission to bomb military and industrial installations in and around Tokyo. This was the very first strike on the Empire of Japan, 133 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
Although no planes were lost over Japan, 25 planes made it safely over China when fuel loss and bad weather forced crews to crash land or bail out. One plane made it to USSR and landed. Three Raiders were killed on bail out, eight were captured by the pursing Japanese Army and 64 crew members were saved by National Chinese who risked their lives moving the Raiders to safety throughout territories occupied by the Japanese militia. The Chinese people, including many soldiers of the National Chinese militia, paid the ultimate sacrifice for aiding these crew members. It was estimated that more than 250,000 men women and children were slaughtered by the pursing Japanese Army for their efforts to protect the American fliers from being taken prisoner or being killed.
For the first time in 69 years, three Doolittle Tokyo Raiders – Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, plane number one and Doolittle’s co-pilot, Major Thomas C. Griffin, the navigator on plane number nine, and S/Sgt David J. Thatcher, engineer/gunner on plane number seven ( featured in the book and movie “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”) will be reunited with members of a Chinese delegation sent by the ambassador of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., to represent the Chinese government and the people of China.
For more information: FloridaAirShow.com