Doolittle Raiders Step Closer to Congressional Gold Medal

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 07:57 PM

By Cathy Burke

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World War II's famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders are one step closer to a Congressional Gold Medal for their "outstanding heroism, valor, skill and service to the United States" in a risk-filled bombing mission four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

A bill to honor the 80 flyers – who, led by Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, flew 16 B–25Bs from the USS Hornet in the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo on April 18, 1942 – now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

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The measure passed the House on Monday. The Senate passed similar legislation in November.

Four of the Raiders are alive today: Lt. Col. Richard Cole, who served as Doolittle's copilot; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor; Staff Sergeant David Thatcher; and Lt. Col. Robert Hite, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

"They should be everybody's heroes, and this is their legacy," Brian Anderson, the sergeant at arms for the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, told the Military Times.

Anderson and his wife started drumming up congressional support for the medal two years ago.

The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the nation's two highest civilian awards for distinguished achievement.

"This Congressional Gold Medal was hard-earned and long overdue for a group of heroes who literally turned the tide for America in the Pacific Theater of World War II," Texas Republican Rep. Pete Olson, who sponsored the bill in the House, told Air Force Times.

"I'm proud to have carried the mantle to see these men receive the honor they so richly deserve."

Once Obama signs the bill, a design of the medal will be sent to the U.S. Mint. One medal will be given to the National Museum of the United States Air Force for display.

"The bravery of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders exemplifies our nation's highest ideals and values," said Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who introduced the Senate bill with Arkansas Republican Sen. John Boozman, the AOPA reported.

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