With the four surviving members of Doolittle’s Tokyo Raiders in their 90s, time is of the essence to have designs executed for the congressional gold medal honoring their heroic contributions recognized and the medal presented, says Raiders liaison Brian Anderson.
Anderson made his impassioned plea during a July 8 Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee teleconference in which he presented the themes the four Tokyo Raiders preferred for obverse and reverse designs.
“We’ve got to get this done as quickly as possible before we lose them and it’s too late,” Anderson said.
Anderson shepherded the enabling legislation through political channels. Along with his wife, he visited all 435 congressional and 100 Senate offices seeking the sponsorship for what would eventually become Public Law 113-106 on May 23, 2014.
Anderson said the four Tokyo Raiders were in agreement that for the obverse they would prefer seeing an iconic rendering of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet with one of the Mitchell B-25 bombers taking off from the flight deck en route on its mission to bomb the Japanese capital and Honshu Island on April 18, 1942.
The obverse design should also include 16 stars, one each for the 16 planes and their crews. The recommended obverse inscription is DOOLITTLE TOKYO RAIDERS — FIRST STRIKE BACK.
The four surviving Tokyo Raiders did not believe their mission would have been successful without the support of the U.S. Navy and the crew of the Hornet, who had no idea what the mission was until the vessel put out to sea, Anderson said.
The four surviving Tokyo Raiders are Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 93; Staff Sgt. Robert Thatcher, 92; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93; and the senior member, Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98, who last piloted an aircraft the week before the July 8 CCAC teleconference, Anderson said.
As a lieutenant, Cole was Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead plane. The crew had to bail out as the aircraft ran out of fuel and eventually crashed. Doolittle, Cole and the remaining three men in the crew were rescued by the Chinese.