Doolittle Raiders Gather for Final Public Reunion

p, .ExternalClass Three of the four surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., for what they’ve said would be the Raiders’ final public reunion. Retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, retired Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, and retired SSgt. David Thatcher took part in the reunion festivities, which ran from April 17 to April 20, to mark the 71st anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders’ B-25 bombing raid on Japan on April 18, 1942. Retired Lt. Col. Bob Hite, the fourth surviving Raider, was not in attendance. “Who could imagine volunteering for our mission in 1942 and celebrating its success 71 years later?” asked Cole in a video on the reunion. “We were just doing our job helping our country win the war,” he added. Among their activities, the three Raiders on April 17 attended the dedication of an F-35 hangar at Eglin AFB, Fla., in Saylor’s honor. That same day, they took part in the unveiling of the Doolittle Raiders’ exhibit on the campus of the Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. On April 18, they spoke to airmen at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Two days later, they participated in Fort Walton Beach’s parade of heroes, which included flyovers of vintage World War II aircraft, including the B-25, the model that the Raiders flew. (Hurlburt report by SrA. Joe McFadden) (Includes Eglin report by Samuel King Jr.) (For more on the historic mission, read Doolittle’s Raid from Air Force Magazine’s archives.)