The Doolittle Tokyo
Raiders congressional gold medal is now on permanent display at
the National Museum of
the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, after formally being
formally presented to the museum April 18 by the final two surviving Raiders.
Col. Richard E. Cole, 99, second lieutenant and co-pilot for Lt.
Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s lead B-25 Mitchell bomber,
physically handed the gold medal over to Lt. Gen. John L. “Jack”
Hudson, director of the museum.
present was the other surviving Raider, Staff
Sgt. David J. Thatcher, 93, the engineer-gunner for Crew No. 7.
100 family members of Doolittle Tokyo Raiders were also in attendance
among the more than 500 people in the audience.
museum is on the grounds of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
medal was available for permanent public display the morning of April
19 as part of a life-size diorama exhibit chronicling the raid through
photos and rare film footage.
part of the display are the 80 silver goblets that the city of Tucson,
Ariz., presented to the Raiders soon after World War II. Gen.
Doolittle, in turn, presented the goblets to the Air Force Academy in
Colorado Springs on behalf of the surviving members of the Raiders,
for safekeeping and display between reunions. The goblets were gifted
to the Air Force museum in Dayton by the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders
Association in 2010.
part of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders display is a B-25 bomber of the
type that the Raiders used in their perilous mission.
April 18 ceremony marked the 73rd anniversary of the air attack on
Tokyo and four other Japanese cities with 16 five-man crews in B-25
bombers that took off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier
Hornet on a 13-hour flight enroute to the Japanese mainland.
his comments before presenting the gold medal to the museum for
safekeeping, Cole remarked of the trust the Raiders had placed in
their leaders, especially Doolittle. That trust was again tested when
the goblets were presented to the National Museum of the U.S. Air
Force for historical preservation.
Cole said, trust was again being placed in the museum as he readied to
transfer the gold medal into Hudson’s hands.
jokingly recounted that Thatcher attended to his fellow crew members
after their plane had ditched on the beach. In contrast, Cole said he
had bailed out of his plane before it crashed, but was left stuck in a
tree hanging in his parachute. Cole said he spent the night in that
tree still suspended in his parachute harness. He and fellow crew
members were eventually rescued by the Chinese.
about their heroics, Cole and Thatcher indicated the raid was part of
their job, even though that job presented the strong possibility that
none of the squadron’s members would return.
medal had been presented to the Raiders in an April 15 ceremony in Emancipation Hall of the
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, where Lt. Gen. Hudson accepted the medal
on the Raiders’ behalf.
the April 18 Dayton ceremony, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders
congressional gold medal was carried along the red carpet to the dais
by Brian “Bear” Anderson, a U.S. Army veteran and the sergeant at arms
of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, who spearheaded the
campaign to get legislation authorizing the medal drafted, introduced,
passed and signed into law.
Swann from the public affairs division at the National Museum of the
U.S. Air Force clarified the medal's transportation from the
Washington ceremony to the museum: "Following the ceremony in
Washington, D.C., the medal was transported to Dayton via commercial
flight. The Raiders were shown the medal at a private location prior
to the presentation ceremony at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
the morning of April 18, 2015, the medal was flown on the B-25J
'Panchito' piloted by Larry Kelley from Dayton International
Airport/Wright Brothers Aero to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Brian
'Bear' Anderson, Sgt. at Arms, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association,
was aboard this ceremonial flight and presented
the medal to Lt. Col. Dick Cole upon landing. The medal was then
be transported by ground to the National Museum of the USAF for the
presentation ceremony at 6 p.m. that evening."
may place orders for 3-inch
bronze duplicates of the gold medal from the U.S. Mint for
$39.95 and 1.5-inch
bronze duplicates for $6.95.
the April 18 ceremony, after the interviews were complete and all the
pictures I needed taken, I took the opportunity to walk up to both Lt.
Col. Cole and Sgt. Thatcher, shake their hands and thank them.
was truly a humbling experience.