photos courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

Meet the Raiders

“The first lesson is that you can't lose a war if you have command of the air, and you can't win a war if you haven't.”

—Gen. Jimmy Doolittle

On April 18, 1942, 80 men and 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers set off on what some said was an impossible mission, to change the course of World War II. The actions of these 80 volunteers, led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, were instrumental in shifting momentum in the Pacific theater and setting the stage for victory at the Battle of Midway.

These men, dubbed the Doolittle Raiders, launched 16 B-25s off the flight deck of the USS Hornet. This marked the raid as catalyst to many future innovations in U.S. air superiority from land or sea. That bold, innovative and courageous spirit of the Doolittle Raiders has been the inspiration behind the name of America’s next generation bomber, the B-21 Raider, in development now by the U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman.
Read more about the Doolittle Raiders »
A look back on the Raider legacy after 75 years »

Raider Spotlight

Staff Sgt. Fred Braemer (1918–1989)

Staff Sgt. Fred Braemer, born on Jan. 31, 1918, in Seattle, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in September 1935 after having served one year in the U.S. Army. Braemer was bombardier of the lead B-25B Mitchell during the Doolittle Raid. After World War II, Braemer served during the Korean War in the B-29 Stratofortress, and later as navigator, bombardier, and observer on B-47 Stratojet bombers. Braemer retired from the Air Force in 1968 at the rank of Captain. He died on February 2, 1989, and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Read more at VeteranTributes.org »

Staff Sgt. Paul Leonard (1912-1943)

Staff Sgt. Paul Leonard, from Roswell, New Mexico, enlisted in the military in Texas in July 1931. He served in Texas, Illinois, and Colorado before being assigned to the lead B-25B Mitchell prior to the Doolittle Raid. After the raid, Leonard was killed by enemy aircraft over Algeria in January 1943.

More about SSgt. Leonard on DoolittleRaider.com »

SSgt. Leonard, Hall of Valor Project »

Lt. Travis Hoover (1917–2004)

Lt. Travis Hoover was born in Melrose, New Mexico. He joined the military in 1938 and went on to pilot the second B-25B Mitchell bomber to fly off the deck of aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Hoover successfully crash landed the plane and arrived in the Raiders’ safe haven of Chungking with the help of Tung Sheng Liu, who later became a close friend of Hoover. After a long career, Hoover commanded Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, before retiring at the rank of Colonel, and lived out the rest of his life in San Antonio, Texas, and Joplin, Missouri. He died in 2004 and is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

Hoover’s Obituary in the L.A. Times »

Lt. Col. James Doolittle (1896–1993)

James Doolittle was born in Alameda, California in 1896. He was leader and namesake of the Doolittle Raid, piloting the lead plane. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt awarded Doolittle with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life.” Doolittle went on to become the first four-star general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and first president of the Air Force Association. Doolittle died September 27, 1993, in Pebble Beach, California, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

James Doolittle’s Air Force Biography »

Lt. Richard Cole (1915– )

Richard “Dick” Cole, born Sept. 7, 1915, in Dayton, Ohio, enlisted in Montgomery, Ohio in 1940. Cole copiloted the lead B-25B Mitchell during the Doolittle Raid. When the crew bailed out, Cole’s parachute became entangled in a tree. After cutting it loose, he used the parachute canopy as a hammock before hiking to safety the next morning. Cole retired as a Colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and many other military decorations. He is active in Doolittle Raid commemorative events and was the last surviving Doolittle Raider as of the raid’s 76th anniversary in 2018.

The Last of the Doolittle Raiders »

The Last Living Doolittle Raider: Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole from The National Archives »

Lt. Henry A. Potter (1918–2002)

Lt. Henry “Hank” Potter, born in Pierre, South Dakota in 1918, was navigator for the lead B-25B Mitchell bomber piloted by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. He was a career Air Force pilot, retiring in 1970 with the rank of colonel. He passed away on Memorial Day, May 27, 2002. Dick Cole, copilot of the plane Potter navigated, served as pall bearer.

Col. Henry Potter’s Obituary, June 4, 2002 »

Meet the Crews

Crew 1

After conducting the raid, the crew bailed out over China and returned home safely.
Pilot: Lt. Col. James Doolittle (1896–1993)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Richard Cole (1915– )
Navigator: Lt. H.A. Potter (1918–2002)
Bombardier: Staff Sgt. Fred Braemer (1918–1989)
Engineer Gunner: Staff Sgt. Paul Leonard (1912-1943) ††

Crew 2

After conducting the raid, the crew survived a crash landing in China and returned home safely.
Pilot: Lt. Travis Hoover (1917–2004)
Co-Pilot: Lt. William Fitzhugh (1915–1981)
Navigator: Lt. Carl Wildner (1915–1994)
Bombardier: Lt. Richard Miller (1916–1943) ††
Engineer Gunner: Staff Sgt. Douglas Radney (1917–1994)

Crew 3

The crew bailed out over a mountainous hillside in China. One member of the crew, Cpl. Leland Faktor, died after falling down a cliff.
Pilot: Lt. Robert Gray (1919–1942) ††
Co-Pilot: Lt. Jacob Manch (1918–1958) ††
Navigator: Lt. Charles Ozuk (1916–2010)
Bombardier: Sgt. Aden Jones (1920–1983)
Engineer Gunner: Cpl. Leland Faktor (1922–1942)*

Crew 4

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Lt. Everett Holstrom (1916–2000)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Nevelon Youngblood (1918–1949) ††
Navigator: Lt. Harry McCool (1918–2003)
Bombardier: Sgt. Robert Stephens (1915–1959)
Engineer Gunner: Cpl. Bert Jordan (1919–2001)

Crew 5

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Capt. David Jones (1913–2008)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Rodney Wilder (1917–1964)
Navigator: Lt. Eugene McGurl (1917–1942) ††
Bombardier: Lt. Denver Truelove (1919–1943) ††
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. Joseph Manske (1921–1998)

Crew 6

The crew bailed out off the coast of China, resulting in two crewmembers drowning. The remaining three swam to shore, were captured and interred as prisoners of war.
Pilot: Lt. Dean Hallmark (1914–1942) **†
Co-Pilot: Lt. Robert Meder (1917–1943) **†
Navigator: Lt. Chase Nielsen (1917–2007)
Bombardier: Sgt. William Dieter (1912–1942) **
Engineer Gunner: Cpl. Donald Fitzmaurice (1919–1942) **

Crew 7

The crew crash landed on the coast of China and survived, but had sustained severe injuries.
Pilot: Lt. Ted Lawson (1917–1992)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Dean Davenport (1918–2000)
Navigator: Lt. Charles McClure (1916–1999)
Bombardier: Lt. Robert Clever (1914–1942) ††
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. David Thatcher (1921–2016)

Crew 8

After conducting the raid, the crew landed in Russia where they were interred for more than a year. All returned safely home in 1943.
Pilot: Capt. Edward York (1912–1984) **
Co-Pilot: Lt. Robert Emmens (1914–1992) **
Navigator: Lt. Nolan Herndon (1918–2007) **
Bombardier: Staff Sgt. Theodore Laban (1914–1978) **
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. David Pohl (1921–1999) **

Crew 9

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Lt. Harold Watson (1916–1991)
Co-Pilot: Lt. James Parker (1920–1991)
Navigator: Lt. Thomas Griffin (1916–2013)
Bombardier: Sgt. Wayne Bissell (1921–1997)
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. Eldred Von Scott (1907–1978)

Crew 10

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Lt. Richard Joyce (1919-1983)
Co-Pilot: Lt. J. Royden Stork (1916-2002)
Navigator Bombardier: (1918-2005)
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. George Larkin (1918-1942) ††
Gunner: Staff Sgt. Edwin Horton (1916-2008)

Crew 11

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Capt. Charles Greening (1914-1957)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Kenneth Reddy (1920-1942) ††
Navigator: Lt. Frank Kappeler (1914-2010)
Bombardier: Staff Sgt. William Birch (1917-2006)
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. Melvin Gardner (1920-1942) ††

Crew 12

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Lt. William Bower (1917-2011)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Thadd Blanton (1919-1961)
Navigator: Lt. William Pound (1918-1967)
Bombardier: Tech. Sgt. Waldo Bither (1906-1988)
Engineer Gunner: Staff Sgt. Omer Duquette (1916-1942) ††

Crew 13

The crew bailed out over China.
Pilot: Lt. Edgar McElroy (1912-2003)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Richard Knobloch (1918-2001)
Navigator: Lt. Clayton Campbell (1917-2002)
Bombardier: Sgt. Robert Bourgeois (1917-2001)
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. Adam Williams (1919-1993)

Crew 14

The crew safely bailed out over China.
Pilot: Maj. John Hilger (1909-1982)
Co-Pilot: Lt. Jack Sims (1919-2007)
Navigator: Lt. James Macia (1916-2009)
Radio Gunner: Staff Sgt. Edwin Bain (1917-1943) ††
Engineer Gunner: Staff Sgt. Jacob Eierman (1913-1994)

Crew 15

The crew landed in waters off China’s coast and made it safely to Chinese shores in a life raft.
Pilot: Lt. Donald Smith (1918-1942) ††
Co-Pilot: Lt. Griffith Williams (1920-1998)
Navigator Bombardier: Lt. Howard Sessler (1917-2001)
Flight Surgeon: Lt. Thomas White, M.D. (1909-1992)
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. Edward Saylor (1920-2015)

Crew 16

The crew crash landed near the China coast and were taken Prisoners of War by Japanese Forces.
Pilot: Lt. William Farrow (1918-1942) **†
Co-Pilot: Lt. Robert Hite (1920-2015) **
Navigator: Lt. George Barr (1917-1967) **
Bombardier: Cpl. Jacob DeShazer (1912-2008) **
Engineer Gunner: Sgt. Harold Spatz (1921-1942) **†

Crew photos courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
* Killed-in-Action (KIA) during Doolittle Raid
** Taken Prisoner of War (POW) by Japanese or Soviet forces
† Died or executed while imprisoned by Japanese forces
†† Died as a result of a different military operation