Bill will award Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Heros
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet cosponsored a bill to recognize the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders with a Congressional Gold Medal. The Doolittle Raiders flew into history on April 18, 1942 when they completed a top secret, dangerous mission to bomb Tokyo and five other targets on the island of Honshu following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The group of 80 volunteers was led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle and came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
After being spotted by an enemy patrol boat, the Raiders were forced to launch their planes 650 miles from their target and, following the attack, had to crash-land in China and Russia. Of the eight raiders who were captured only four returned home. Their mission is the longest combat mission ever flown in a B-52 Mitchell bomber at an average distance of 2,250 nautical miles over a period of 13 hours. There are four raiders currently still alive, and they held their final public reunion this past April.
"The actions of these brave individuals helped turn World War II around and the country owes them a great debt of gratitude," Bennet said. "These men showed incredible bravery in the face of unknown danger and they are well deserving of this honor."
The Doolittle Raiders have a rich history in Colorado. Doolittle Raider William Marsh "Bill" Bower, the final surviving bomber pilot of the mission, retired in Boulder Colorado with his wife and four children in 1966 where he lived until his death in 2011. He played a large role in the Boulder community, volunteering with Second Harvest Community Food Shares and Meals on Wheels and serving on various City committees. Doolittle Raider Harry McCool was born in La Junta, Colorado in 1918, while Lt. Col. James Doolittle spent time in Colorado with General George S. Patton at Buckley Field, rallying American support for the continuing war in the Pacific.
Furthering the Colorado connections, a special glass-enclosed cabinet was kept on display in Arnold Hall at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs containing 80 silver goblets, each engraved with the name of a Raider. Each goblet is turned upside down when that member of the group passes away. The goblets were moved to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in 2006.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.