Hartselle Resident Attends Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Gold Medal Ceremony
Washington, D.C.– Yesterday afternoon, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate presented the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow, in recognition of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders' outstanding heroism and service to the United States during World War II. The ceremony was held in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center. Bob Jaques of Hartselle, who has more than 35 years of experience as an aviation and space historian and has been actively involved in gathering support for the Doolittle Raiders, was in attendance at Wednesday’s ceremony. Bob Jaques, a freelance writer, has attended several Doolittle Raiders reunions and has written articles about those events in aviation publications. In addition, he has given programs on the Doolittle Raiders to various organizations in North Alabama. Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) cosponsored H.R. 1209, passed by the House in addition to companion Senate legislation last Congress, which set yesterday’s medal ceremony in place.
Congressman Brooks said, "The heroic actions of the Doolittle Raiders brought about a much needed victory for America and was a critical turning point in World War II. Not knowing what to expect, these brave Americans volunteered for the mission and willingly put their lives in harm's way to bring the fight to Japanese soil and restore morale to the American people. It was a pleasure to spend time with Bob Jaques and thank him for his work to ensure these heroes were properly recognized for their courageous service to our nation.”
On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led 79 other airmen flying sixteen B-25 bombers on an unprecedented attack on the Japanese mainland to avenge the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor four months earlier. These men, who came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, willingly went to battle, risking death, capture, and torture to bring the fight to the Japanese homeland. When news of the raid reached the United States, Americans across the country applauded their first victory of the war.
On April 18, the 73rd anniversary of the raid, the Congressional Gold Medal will be presented to the National Museum of the United States Air Force for permanent public display by one of the two surviving Raiders, Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" E. Cole, co-pilot of Crew No. 1, during a ceremony at the museum. The other surviving Raider, Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, engineer-gunner of Crew No. 7, is also planning to attend.