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A Veterans’ Day Celebration with the Doolittle Raiders
PJ Media ^ | November 11, 2011 | Hans A. von Spakovsky

Posted on 11/11/2011 10:32:05 AM PST by jazusamo

I recently attended a wonderful celebration with several generations of our military heroes.

One of the few advantages of working in Washington is the occasional chance to do something special. Last Saturday night offered just such an opportunity. And, so, my wife and I attended the annual dinner of the American Veterans Center (AVC). The banquet room was filled with veterans who had participated in some of the greatest achievements of the American armed forces. That evening, we were in the middle of history.

AVC’s mission is to preserve and promote the legacy of America’s servicemen and women from every generation. And every great generation of the last 70 years was represented in that room. The AVC gave out its annual awards to deserving veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict.

It has been almost 70 years since Lt. Colonel James Doolittle led 80 airmen in 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers in a momentous raid on the mainland of Japan. After the disaster at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt wanted to land an early blow that would teach the Japanese they were not beyond our reach. Doolittle’s mission, flown off the USS Hornet, pushed the outer limits of the technology of the time. It was a success, but it was a one-way trip. The planes didn’t have the range to return to the Hornet and couldn’t land on a carrier. After hitting their target, the pilots continued on into China — to crash land or bail out. All of the aircraft were lost, and 11 crewmen were killed.

Four of the five remaining Doolittle raiders — including Richard Cole, Doolittle’s copilot — were at the dinner. They all looked in remarkably good shape, given that they are in their 90s. They presented the first annual Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Award to General Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and himself a Vietnam fighter pilot with over 600 combat hours.

The Audie Murphy Award (Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II, winning every medal the Army had to offer including the Congressional Medal of Honor) was given to two Army Rangers. They were representing the 2nd Ranger Battalion, one of the most famous battalions in American history. At Normandy, it was the 2nd Rangers who climbed the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc in the face of murderous machine gun fire from the Nazi defenders. It was humbling to be in the same room with two of these Rangers (sitting right behind us at the next table), who had put their lives on the line 67 years ago in a daring mission to take out the enemy guns covering the beaches where the Allies were landing.

The second Audie Murphy Award was given to Robert Maxwell, who saved his fellow soldiers in 1944 in Southern France by falling on a grenade that had landed in their observation post. He not only survived (although he was terribly wounded), but he won the Medal of Honor. Mr. Maxwell strode up to the stage to receive his award. He did not look like he was 91, or that he had been almost killed by a grenade when he was just a young man.

The Joe Ronnie Hooper Award was given to Medal of Honor winner Brian Thacker. Thacker was a lieutenant in Vietnam in 1971 when North Vietnamese soldiers overran his hilltop six-man artillery observation post. Thacker and his men retreated from bunker to bunker, fighting against overwhelming odds. Two helicopters were shot down trying to rescue them, and three of his men were killed. During a lull in the fighting, he sent his men out along a ridge line to get to another extraction point six miles away while he stayed behind and called in artillery strikes on his own position to protect their retreat. He found cover in a nearby bamboo forest, and stayed hidden for eight days without food or water while the North Vietnamese looked for him.

The Raymond G. Davis Award is named after another Medal of Honor winner and one of the Marine Corps’ greatest heroes. Davis’ leadership is credited with saving more than 7,000 Marines during the savage fighting at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. His award was given to the survivors of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne), the first, last, and only all-black Ranger unit in American history. They served for 10 months in Korea, amassing an unbelievable combat record. They were, for example, the first Army Rangers to parachute behind enemy lines. As one of their members said at the dinner, in a very strange turn of events, the segregation that was ending in the Army had actually made them better soldiers. Their officers and NCOs trained them to be twice as good as anyone else so no one could question their qualifications.

Finally, the last award of the evening was the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award, named after the first winner of the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan. A Navy SEAL, Murphy and his men were ambushed by Taliban fighters. He was killed after he exposed himself to enemy fire to gain a better position from which to transmit a call for help. Murphy’s father spoke about his son, and there were few dry eyes in the room after he finished talking.

The Michael Murphy Award was given to Staff Sergeant Leroy Petry, who received the Medal of Honor from President Obama on July 12, 2011. When a grenade landed amidst his men during a battle in the Paktia province, he saved them all by picking it up and throwing it away. He lost his hand in the process. He tourniquetted his own arm and stayed in the battle until he could lead his men to a casualty collection point. At that point, he realized that he had also been shot through both legs.

Petry came over to the table behind me where the two Pointe du Hoc Rangers were sitting. He introduced himself and saluted the men who had preceded him in the storied ranks of one of the most elite units of the U.S. Army. I felt I was witnessing a historical handoff from the Greatest Generation to the newest line of brave, honorable, and patriotic Americans who have stepped into their shoes to protect our nation and our freedom.

It was an honor to be at that evening’s event, and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Another special day fast approaches: Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day. As Woodrow Wilson said when he first proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day, it is a day that should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those” who have served our country. They deserve both our gratitude and our admiration.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation ( and a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.

TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: avc; medalofhonor; navair; veterans; veteransday
A good article by Hans A. von Spakovsky however the Medal of Honor was awarded to those brave men and they are the recipients of same.
1 posted on 11/11/2011 10:32:08 AM PST by jazusamo
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To: jazusamo
Thanks for posting. I was happily surprised to read that 4 of the 5 Doolittle raid survivors were able to attend. IIRC, a while back the reunion dinners for the raid survivors were cancelled because they weren't up to the travelling...

The last survivor gets to crack open the bottle of brandy and toast his fallen brothers in arms...that will be an amazing thing to witness.

2 posted on 11/11/2011 10:41:26 AM PST by ken5050 (Cain/Gingrich 2012!!! because sharing a couch with Pelosi is NOT the same as sharing a bed with her)
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To: jazusamo
It took a lot of guts flying an Army bomber off a Navy flattop knowing there was nowhere to land at the end of the mission.

3 posted on 11/11/2011 10:44:31 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: Vroomfondel; SC Swamp Fox; Fred Hayek; NY Attitude; P3_Acoustic; investigateworld; lowbuck; ...


Click on pic for past Navair pings. Post or FReepmail me if you wish to be enlisted in or discharged from the Navair Pinglist. The only requirement for inclusion in the Navair Pinglist is an interest in Naval Aviation. This is a medium to low volume pinglist.

4 posted on 11/11/2011 10:50:01 AM PST by magslinger (To properly protect your family you need a Bible, a twelve gauge and a pig.)
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To: ken5050
I was happily surprised to read that 4 of the 5 Doolittle raid survivors were able to attend.

As was I and especially so because the four there were said to be in good shape.

Lets hope it's a number of years before that bottle of brandy is opened but when it is I pray it's recorded for all to witness who are interested. :-)

God Bless them all!

5 posted on 11/11/2011 10:51:57 AM PST by jazusamo (The real minimum wage is zero: Thomas Sowell)
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To: colorado tanker

Amen to that!

Thanks for posting, that’s a great photo and portrays the danger of the mission.

6 posted on 11/11/2011 10:54:40 AM PST by jazusamo (The real minimum wage is zero: Thomas Sowell)
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Please bump the Freepathon or click above and donate or become a monthly donor!

7 posted on 11/11/2011 10:55:54 AM PST by jazusamo (The real minimum wage is zero: Thomas Sowell)
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To: colorado tanker
One of the planes..within the first 5 to take off..actually took off with NO the excitement, they forgot to deploy them...amazing they made it off the deck..

Unrelated, but shortly after WW II, there were attempts to LAND a 4 engine bomber on a carrier...there is film...I can't find it..maybe someone can post a link...they were successfull.but it was deemed impracticle. ( no kidding) THAT take cojones!!

8 posted on 11/11/2011 10:59:17 AM PST by ken5050 (Cain/Gingrich 2012!!! because sharing a couch with Pelosi is NOT the same as sharing a bed with her)
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To: jazusamo

I was curious to see how the A3 compared to the B25. I do not mean to belittle the Doolittle men. What they accomplished was truly groundbreaking. They launched those aircraft without catapaults or jet engines and what they did for American morale, to Japanese morale and causing Japan to hold back resources for homeland defense undoubtedly saved countless American lives.

Specifications (A3D-2/A-3B Skywarrior)
General characteristics

Crew: 3
Length: 76 ft 4 in (23.27 m)
Wingspan: 72 ft 6 in (22.10 m)
Height: 22 ft 9½ in (6.95 m)
Wing area: 812 ft² (75.4 m²)
Empty weight: 39,409 lb (17,876 kg)
Loaded weight: 70,000 lb (31,750 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 82,000 lb (37,195 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J57-P-10 turbojet, 10,500 lbf (46.7 kN) dry (12,400 lbf (55.3 kN with water injection))[25] each

Specifications (B-25J)

General characteristics

Crew: six (one pilot, one co-pilot, navigator/bombardier, turret gunner/engineer, radio operator/waist gunner, tail gunner)
Length: 52 ft 11 in (16.1 m)
Wingspan: 67 ft 6 in (20.6 m)
Height: 17 ft 7 in (4.8 m)
Wing area: 610 sq ft (57 m²)
Empty weight: 21,120 lb (9,580 kg)
Loaded weight: 33,510 lb (15,200 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 41,800 lb (19,000 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600 “Cyclone 14” radials, 1,850 hp (1,380 kW) each

9 posted on 11/11/2011 11:15:33 AM PST by magslinger (To properly protect your family you need a Bible, a twelve gauge and a pig.)
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To: ken5050

I remember the story about the “no flaps” plane. You’re right, it’s a miracle they got off!

10 posted on 11/11/2011 11:17:37 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: magslinger

It’s always been amazing to me how they pulled that off with so few casualties. I remember as a young kid seeing the movie, it really made an impression.

11 posted on 11/11/2011 11:33:38 AM PST by jazusamo (The real minimum wage is zero: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo
A friend of mine offered me the Medals of her father who was on the Doolittle raid. I could not take them. It did not seem right. It is amazing what the Greatest Generation did and how little things are now. God bless the Veterans.
12 posted on 11/11/2011 11:49:43 AM PST by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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