Mission Briefing: Doolittle Raiders 70th Anniversary Flight Prepares for Departure
April 18, 2012 will mark the 70th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid over Honshu, Japan. A squadron of sixteen B-25 Bombers with 80 crew members tasked with launching from an aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet, in an attempt to bomb the heart of the Japanese Empire. None of these men knew if they would be successful, but every man gave of themselves to take the small chance of changing the direction of World War II, every man volunteered for the mission, which for some was one-way.
The silence was broken in a quiet Historic Flight museum Sunday afternoon by the humble tone of living Doolittle Raider Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, Engineer-Gunner of B-25 Plane No. 15, telling of his participation in the April 1942 Raid over Honshu, Japan. A quiet man, standing in front of thirty people, leaning on his hand carved cane and expressing what Lt. Col. Saylor called “his little part” in the events that would unite a country and eventually bring about the fall of the great Empire of Japan during World War II.
One of five surviving Raiders — out of the original 80 — Lt. Col. Saylor, a resident of Puyallup, Wash., was on site at the Historic Flight Foundation at the personal invitation of museum owner John Sessions to once again participate in a mission briefing that would change the lives of all those in attendance.
Almost reminiscent of the early 0500 mission briefing for the Raiders, twelve passengers, now known as “Flight Crew,” sat down with coffee in hand to learn about life on a B-25 and what was to come. Each of these individuals had previously purchased an actual seat to fly on the B-25d Bomber “Grumpy”, either to Dayton, Ohio or home from Dayton, Ohio as a once in a lifetime flight to participate in the 70th Anniversary Reunion of the Doolittle Raiders.
One B-25 Mitchell bomber, two Pilots, 12 men and an historic flight that will only happen once!
Some of the flight crew offered the reasons why they personally wanted to be part of this flight:
“This will be one of the last times we see 22 B-25 bombers flying together and this will be a very unique experience, meeting those involved, hear the stories, and shake their hand and thank them for what they did for people like me.” —Tom Hawkins – Outbound B-25 Crew, Edmonds, Washington
I am looking forward to seeing the mass flying of B-25’s and seeing the awesome museum in Dayton. This is a major bucket list check mark for me! ” —Mike Mosbrooker – Inbound B-25 Crew, Oak Harbor, Washington
Next stop for the flight crew, Dayton, Ohio and the 70th Anniversary reunion for the Doolittle Raiders at the US Air Force Museum, truly a living history event and a once in a life time story to tell forever!