Post 18 re­ceives Doolit­tle ar­ti­fact

Record Observer - - Front Page - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@ches­pub.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — A spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion was held at the De­cem­ber general mem­ber­ship meet­ing at the Cen­tre­ville Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 18. Sons of the Amer­i­can Le­gion mem­ber Robert J. Koenke of Cen­tre­ville pre­sented a framed cer­tifi­cate signed by the late Lt. Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolit­tle, who flew the first bombing mis­sions in early 1942 against the Ja­panese, just weeks af­ter the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii, which brought the U.S. into World War II.

The large, framed cer­tifi­cate in­cludes a pho­to­graph of one of 16 B-25 bombers used by Doolit­tle in the re­tal­i­a­tion at­tack on Ja­pan. Fif­teen of those bombers made it to main­land China in hope of land­ing there fol­low­ing their at­tack on spe­cific lo­ca­tions of the is­land main­land of Ja­pan, in­clud­ing Tokyo. The long-range bomber as­sault which took off from the deck of the U.S. Air­craft Car­rier Hor­net in the Pa­cific Ocean was con­sid­ered at the time a great em­bar­rass­ment to the Ja­panese mil­i­tar y.

How­ever, four of the bombers were un­able to land safely as a tremen­dous storm had ar­rived be­fore them in China, and four bombers crashed, in­clud­ing Doolit­tle’s. The wreck­age of the four bombers was not re­cov­ered un­til the mid-1990s through the ef­forts of an or­ga­ni­za­tion known as “MIA Hunters,” which has earned the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing the best or­ga­ni­za­tion in help­ing find for­mer mil­i­tary per­son­nel who were lost in com­bat,

and deemed “Miss­ing In Ac­tion” (MIA). The rep­u­ta­tion was be­stowed upon the or­ga­ni­za­tion by the U.S. De­part­ment of De­fense.

In­side the frame cer­tifi­cate is a small piece of ar­mor plat­ing that had been placed in­side the bombers as ad­di­tional pro­tec­tion be­hind each pi­lot’s seat. Sev­eral parts of the bombers were re­cov­ered in the 1990s through the ef­forts of MIA Hunters.

The framed ar­ti­fact and cer­tifi­cate were pre­sented to Post 18 Com­man­der Vince Hig­gins who an­nounced that it would im­me­di­ately be mounted in a prom­i­nent lo­ca­tion in­side the post.

Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolitte is one of the most famed pi­o­neer Amer­i­can avi­a­tors ever. He en­listed in the U.S. Army as a Pri­vate First Class in 1917. He was trained in what be­came known as the U.S. Army Air Corps that pre­ceded the cre­ation of the U.S. Air Force. He lit­er­ally saw the be­gin­nings of the use avi­a­tion in the U.S. mil­i­tary. He re­mained in the mil­i­tary un­til re­tir­ing dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion dur­ing the mid-1930s, earn­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for pi­o­neer­ing the flight of air­craft us­ing in­stru­ment pan­els only.

He was called back to ac­tive duty in 1940, about one year prior to the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor. On April 18, 1942, Doolit­tle led the top se­cret bomber at­tack on Ja­pan. It was con­sid­ered a great mo­rale-build­ing vic­tory at the time, and Doolitte was awarded the Con­gres­sional Medal of Honor for his valor and lead­er­ship in what be­came known as “Doolit­tle’s Raid.”

He re­tired again af­ter WWII in 1946, how­ever, was con­sis­tently rec­og­nized as an Amer­i­can hero un­til his death in Septem­ber 1993. He was even pre­sented as an hon­o­rar y rank of a four-star general by Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan in a spe­cial cer­e­mony held at the White House in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. in 1985.

The cer­tifi­cate at the Amer­i­can Le­gion was signed by Doolit­tle prior to his death in 1993, au­then­ti­cat­ing the ar­mor plat­ing from his for­mer bomber and work done by the MIA Hunters or­ga­ni­za­tion in re­triev­ing it, hon­or­ing the men who served with Doolit­tle’s very early at­tack on Ja­pan.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Sons of the Amer­i­can Le­gion mem­ber Robert J. Koenke, left, presents a framed pic­ture and metal ar­ti­fact of one of U.S. Army Air Corps Lt. Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolit­tle’s miss­ing B-25 Amer­i­can bombers that was in ac­tion over Ja­panese oc­cu­pied China dur­ing World War II, to Cen­tre­ville Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 18 Com­man­der Vince Hig­gins.

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