Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This date in 1942

MORT's Meanderings: April 18, 2011

April 18, 1942

This date in our history like so many others, has silently slipped into the abyss of forgotten dates marking significant events that helped shape our nation.

This morning, I scanned our local newsrags and tuned into several AM radio stations but, failed to read or hear one reference made to the event that took place on this date in 1942 - The Doolittle Raid on Japan. It was on that date that LTC. Jimmy Doolittle led sixteen twin-engined B-25 Mitchell bombers off the tossing deck of the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CV-8) and headed toward the homeland of our enemy in the Pacific, to drop their 2000 lb.bomb loads on Japan.

This event occurred just four months after the Japanese attack, Sunday, December 7, 1941, upon our military base and Naval facility at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. That sneak-attack cost the lives of more than 2,000 of our soldiers and sailors and literally destroyed our Pacific fleet anchored in the harbor. This was a crippling blow that caught us completely unaware and very nearly rendered us utterly defenseless in the Pacific. Fortunately, our Pacific-based aircraft carriers were at that time, on the high seas and thus, escaped the fate of many of our Navy's ships, sunk at their moorings. Thus began our direct involvement in World War II.

In the intervening months between 'Pearl Harbor' and this April 18, 1942 date, Japan had swept across the Far East and the Pacific Islands in a wave of conquest and terror that was virtually unopposed. British, French, American forces were overwhelmed by the military might of Imperial Japan. U.S. Armed Forces were defeated and captured or had to be re-located to safer locations such as Australia, ahead of the onrushing enemy. Morale in America was scraping the bottom of the barrel. While we were gearing up our military and war materiel industrial facilities, we were suffering the shock of reading daily newspaper headlines that screamed of defeat after defeat at the hands of the Imperial Forces of the island nation of Japan. We were frightened and we had every right to be apprehensive about the outcome. We desperately needed some hope.

President Roosevelt recognized the dire necessity of some sort of military victory to bolster our courage and stiffen our resolve. FDR prevailed upon his Chief Military advisors to come up with a plan - and, they did. After some high-level, top-secret discussions about the feasibility of an aerial attack on the homeland of our enemy, early aviation pioneer and renowned air-racing pilot Army LTC. Jimmy Doolittle, was picked to plan, organize and head-up the mission. And, did he ever? Within an incredibly short time frame, he selected the type of aircraft to do the job and he chose the most capable crews available to fly them. Then, he set about training them at an air base in Florida, in the unprecedented task of flying land-based medium bombers off the deck of an aircraft carrier, while at sea. When the critical date arrived, the planes were flown to the West Coast where all 16 planes and crews were lifted aboard the USS Hornet. The ship steamed toward the location in the Pacific just a couple hundred miles off the coast of Japan, where it had been planned to launch the mission to bomb several targets on the soil of the Japanese homeland.

That plan was foiled when a Japanese 'fishing boat' spotted the USS Hornet underway and radioed the report to Japan. The 'fishing boat' was quickly blown out of the water but, the secrecy of the mission had been breached and the planes had to be launched about 200 miles before it had been planned to do so. Thus, adding even more to the odds stacked against the mission's success.

The entire story of this mission, its success and its aftermath, are legend and are committed to history books such as, "First Over Japan", an autobiography of Lt. Jack A. Sims, co-pilot of plane No. 14 of the "Doolittle Raiders" (ISBN 0-9716398-2-5 © 2002 Southpointe Press, Author: Jack A. Sims, Colonel (USAF, Ret'd) with A. B. Cook). To quote from the review of this book I was invited to write and privileged to contribute:
"Of the signal events in the military history of the United States of America, there is Washington's crossing of the Delaware, the Doolittle Raid on Japan just four months after Pearl Harbor and then, there is everything else."

To note that in less than an average lifespan after this event, it no longer has a place as even the merest footnote in lists of significant events on, 'This Date in History', is tragic. It is a deplorable and a truly sad commentary on this generation's knowledge of or respect for, such a significant event in our nation's history.

While others might forget, I shall never forget. God bless the Doolittle Raiders and all the other courageous men and women who heeded the call to duty, to protect and defend their country, when called upon to serve during World War II. They did so, unselfishly and without a whimper.

Lest we forget.

Conservative Commentary by MORT KUFF © 2011

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Red Snapper said...

These Troops were Heroes. Too bad they have to be slandered by ignorant Liberals.

Low Life Tom Hanks slams our Military said...

Thank you for your comment Red Snapper.
Yes these Men were Heroes! However, we have Liberals like Lowlife Tom Hanks trying to rewrite History by stating America was RACIST to attack Japan. We were attacked and we responded. Today with the disgusting UN and the Obama Regime, we would probably apologize and not fight back.