The Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942

Uploaded by soldiersmediacenter on 20.04.2010

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This Week in Army History.
Following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941,
President Franklin Roosevelt insisted on a retaliatory attack on the Japanese homeland.
With much of the Pacific fleet sunk or severely damaged,
offensive options were greatly limited.
A new strategy was conceived using aircraft carriers to transport land-based bombers
to within striking distance of Japan.
The planned raid called for the Navy to deliver the bombers
to a point about 400 miles from the Japanese mainland,
leaving the aircraft with sufficient fuel to land in friendly airfields in China.
Army Air Force's Commanding General "Hap" Arnold
selected Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle to organize and lead the mission.
On April 18 at approximately 600 miles out,
the Americans encountered Japanese picket boats who radioed of the impending attack.
Fearing a Japanese submarine attack upon his ships,
Admiral Halsey flashed the following message:
"Launch planes."
"To Colonel Doolittle and gallant command: Good luck and God bless you."
The air crews launched, knowing they were carrying insufficient fuel
to reach the Chinese airfields.
Encountering surprisingly little resistance over Tokyo,
a string of 13 American bombers attacked military and industrial targets,
inflicting minor damage before winging off toward China.
One by one the aircraft ran low on fuel and crews bailed out
or crash landed along the Chinese coast.
One aircraft landed safely in Russia, where the crew was interned for over a year.
The Japanese captured eight and soon executed three.
A fourth airman died as a prisoner of war.
The heaviest toll was paid by the Chinese civilians
living in the area where the raiders landed.
Perhaps a quarter of a million were killed in retaliation.
The joint Army-Navy operation achieved limited tactical success
but delivered a much-needed morale boost to the American military and public.
The raid was also portent of the massive incendiary and nuclear bombing raids
that brought Japan to the peace table in August of 1945.
Doolittle expected to be court-martialed for having lost all his aircraft
but instead received the Medal of Honor and was promoted to brigadier general.
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