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The Doolittle Raid

             On December 7th, 1941, Japanese carrier based planes bombed and mostly destroyed all of the American naval forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. From that date until April 18th, 1942, any war news reaching the United States was negative. One by one our military holdings were lost as the Japanese pushed victoriously across the Pacific. Then on April 18th came an event that raised American spirits. Lt Col James Doolittle, known as Jimmy Doolittle of the U.S. Army Air Corps led a force of 16 planes on a bombing raid on the Japanese home Islands. Four cities, including the capitol city of Tokyo, were bombed. Damage was minimal compared to the damage inflicted in later bombings of the war, but the effect on the American people was electrifying. At last we hit back! The effect on the Japanese military leadership must have been sobering. In just over 4 months after the American fleet was supposedly destroyed, their Capitol was bombed. How 16 bombers could cross all those miles of enemy held ocean is a story of magnificent courage, daring and American ingenuity. The courage and daring started with the man in command and went through every single warrior that flew with him. Any story of the raid would have to begin with him. Jimmy Doolittle was a career officer in the US Army Air Corps. He joined the army in 1917, but didn't see any action in WWI. He became an instructor quite early in his career and then went on to set many flying records between 1917 and 1930, gaining publicity for the Air Corps. He also took part in a demonstration led by General Billy Mitchell which proved that air power could make obsolete the navy idea that battleships should be the first line of naval offense. Doolittle left active service in 1930, but kept up his connection with the service through the reserves. Seeing that war was inevitable for the U.S. Doolittle returned to active service in 1940. Soon after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt started pressing the Joint Chiefs to come up with a plan to hit back at the Japanese homeland.

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