One of the largest gatherings of B-25 Mitchell bombers since World War II is being planned as part of a tribute to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders as they commemorate the 70th anniversary of their raid on Japan during a 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.
Twenty-two B-25 Mitchell bombers plan to come from across the nation and land on the runway behind the museum on the morning of April 17. The aircraft will then be placed on static display from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for the public to get an up-close look at each plane and meet the pilots and crews.
On April 18 at approximately 12:15 p.m., the aircraft will takeoff one by one, form-up together over the Dayton area and then fly in formation over the museum at 1 p.m. — just prior to the Doolittle Raiders Memorial Service in the museum’s Memorial Park.
These outdoor reunion events are weather contingent and subject to change, museum officials note. In order to operate the B-25s on the museum’s normally closed runway, there must be relatively clear weather and a dry runway. A final weather call will be announced on April 16. For the latest updates and information on the reunion, including the complete schedule, click here.
The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, Inc. continues to work on securing sponsorship to assist with the funding of these B-25 aircraft. Those interested in helping should visit Doolittle-Raiders.org, or contact Tom Casey with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, Inc. at 941-921-7361 or email@example.com or Larry Kelley at 410-991-2356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher — are able to travel and plan to be on-hand for the reunion events. Others scheduled to attend the reunion include retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Allen Josey, who was an electrician on the aircraft carrier Hornet when the Raiders took off on their mission, and Hu Daxian of Zhejiang, China. Daxian is the wife of Li Senlin, who aided Doolittle Tokyo Raider crew number two.
Other public events during the reunion include two autograph sessions, two lunches (sold-out), a dinner banquet (sold-out) and the screening of the film “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” which will be shown in the museum’s Carney Auditorium on April 18.
Before and after the museum reunion events, the B-25 aircraft will stage out of Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio, to practice formation flights, and will offer public rides and static displays. For more information on the events at Grimes Field, click here.
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