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Hundreds attend symposium on the Doolittle Raid of WWII

Molly Hamilton Apr 26, 2017

On Friday, April 21, more than 350 people came to the USS Yorktown and sat in the shadow of the B-25 on display to hear the story of one of the greatest missions in military history. The symposium, titled “Doolittle Raiders Target Tokyo,” featured nationally-acclaimed Mount Pleasant author James M. Scott, who was recently named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work on the book “Target Tokyo,” a comprehensive account of the Doolittle Raid. Martin Crouch, the son of Columbia native and Doolittle Raider Horace “Sally” Crouch also took the stage to share memories and artifacts from his late father’s collection.

Scott outlined the many historic moments that led up to the Doolittle Raid, including the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and also explained the reasoning for the critical mission and why Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle was chosen to lead it.  The mission had ties to South Carolina as many of the men trained in Columbia, SC prior to heading to Florida to train specifically for the Doolittle Raid.

The Doolittle Raid took place 75 years ago on April 18, 1942. The mission was named after Army Colonel James Doolittle who planned and led the attack. It was the first American airstrike on Tokyo, Japan during World War II. Sixteen B-25 planes (medium sized bombers), each equipped with four bombs, were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) in the Pacific Ocean – a feat that had never previously been attempted. Because of the distance needed to travel, and limited fuel capacity, Doolittle’s plan was for the B-25 crews to land in China after hitting their targets.

In total, 15 of the planes made it to China but had to crash land. The remaining crew went down in Soviet Union territory.  Eight of the 80 men who participated in the raid were captured by the Japanese, and three of those prisoners were executed. The five men who landed in the Soviet Union were held as prisoners for more than a year and interned in work camps.

Col. Jimmy Doolittle received the Medal of Honor for his leadership on this mission and all Doolittle Raiders earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. The mission will forever be remembered as one of the greatest missions in military history.

After Scott explained the history of the Doolittle Raid, Martin Crouch joined him on stage to share memories of the raid he learned from his father, Horace “Sally” Crouch.  During the Doolittle Raid, Crouch served as the navigator on the the 10th B-25 and they endured some of the heaviest anti-aircraft fire and sustained some of the worst damage among the raid’s bombers. The crew was credited with shooting down two Japanese zero fighters and successfully bombing their target before bailing out near Chuchow, a town in China’s Hunan province. They were rescued by Chinese guerillas.  Martin Crouch shared memories his father once told him and a replica of the “bomb sight” the crew used to drop their bombs with tremendous precision.

Check out the gallery below of photos from the event, and check out our Livestream page to watch a recording of the event by clicking here.

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