Salem couple lead effort to honor Doolittle Toyko Raiders
Three of the four surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders met last summer for a reunion in Florida, where they posed with this B-25 bomber, the same type of plane they flew during their legendary World War II mission. From left are Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, Sgt. David Thatcher and Lt. Col. Edward D. Saylor. Eighty members of the Raiders embarked on a fateful and dangerous mission in April 1942, when they flew over Japan in a 16-plane attack. Salem resident Brian Anderson and his wife, Cyndee, hope to gain legislative support for a bill that would honor the surving Raiders with the Congressional Gold Medal. (COURTESY)
The 80 volunteer members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders flew into history in mid- April of 1942.
An avid history buff, he said he's been fortunate to have had "a ringside seat to history."
"These men are all in their 90s now — they were truly part of the greatest generation," Anderson said this week. "Their efforts had an enormous impact in history, not only on the psyche of the Japanese warlords but on our own American troops. We won the Battle of Midway about a month and a half later, and the Doolittle men certainly played a role in this."
Eight of them were captured behind enemy lines, with three of the captives executed. Another man died of fever and malnutrition during the period of confinement, while the remaining four were eventually freed after being imprisoned for 33 months.
"It was basically a suicide mission," Anderson said. "God's hand certainly had providence that night as they ran into a storm and tailwinds safely guided them over the Chinese mountains."
Hite was unable to attend due to declining health, though Cole had the chance to fly a B-25 bomber plane one final time.
As of last week, 24 senators, including U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and 121 members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Carol Shea Porter, D-N.H., had agreed to co-sponsor the bills.
"We're asking people to take a moment and write to their legislators," Anderson said. "These four men are true, American heroes and we need to honor them while they're still here among us."
Those with questions regarding the pending legislation may contact Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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