When you’ve worked in higher education as long as I have, you get reacquainted with former students who have retired from one career and now are on to a second one. Such is the situation with one of my former students James Copes, a retired high school English teacher who now takes incredible photographs of “people, places and things” instead of teaching students the parts of speech.
Now that your celebration of July 4 has come to an end, let’s look at a little American military history. Today my column features Copes’ photos taken last year when, using his press pass, he was able to be at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 9, 2013, for the survivors of Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’ final toast to their fallen comrades.
The brave men featured in the photographs by Copes are Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93; and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 92. The fourth living survivor, Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 93, was not able to attend for health reasons.
Another incident of note is in May of 2014 when the four surviving members were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal “for outstanding heroism, valor, skill and service to the United States.”
Let’s go back in history. On April 18, 1942, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, 80 men, all volunteers, flew off on an “extremely hazardous mission” to bomb Japan.
See how many of the following questions you can answer. Cheating is allowed if they stump you.
1. Many view this attack on Tokyo and Honshu Island as retaliation for what Japanese attack of U.S. forces on December 7, 1941?
2. Who was president of the U.S. at the time of the Doolittle Tokyo raid?
3. What was the name of the ship that served as the launch pad for the 16 B-25 bombers that flew the mission?
4. Of the 16 planes, how many were crashed or ditched ?
5. Because the medium-sized bombers could not land on the ship from which they were launched, the plan was to fly to what country?
6. Why was Doolittle afraid he would be court-martialed after the outcome of the raid was made known?
7. Bonus question: Name two or more of the nicknames used for the planes.
1. The attack on Pearl Harbor
2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
3. USS. Hornet
6. Lost all the aircraft under his command
7. Whiskey Pete, The Green Hornet, The Ruptured Duck, Whirling Dervish, Hari Kari-er, Fickle Finger of Fate, The Avenger, TNT and Bat Out of Hell
According to Tom Brokaw, this was “the greatest generation” any society has ever produced.” Let us honor and remember them.
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