1942 - Based on a plan submitted by submarine staff officer, Captain Francis S. Low, America strikes back at Imperial Japan for the 12/7/1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor! Flying under the command of Colonel James Doolittle (the 45-year-old former stunt flier will win the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership during the mission), 16 modified B-25 medium bombers (carrying 5-man crews and one ton bomb loads) take-off from the bucking deck of the U.S. carrier Hornet (spotted by a Japanese patrol vessel which is quickly sunk, the group launches ahead of schedule, 670 miles from Tokyo) on a mission to strike the Japanese homeland. Flying at 200 feet above the water to avoid radar and fighter patrols for more than five hours, the group successfully arrives at their targets (the planes are thought to be part of an air-raid drill and so receive minimal ground fire), the bombers drop their loads (four 500 pound bombs), and short on fuel due to their premature launches, fly on to China crash landings (one plane will make Vladivostok and be interned by the Soviets ... in reprisal, 3 men will be executed by the Japanese, but eventually, 71 of the 80 men on the raid will return to their homes in the United States). The raid does little damage, but the spirits of the American people are given a booster shot by the deed, and the Japanese reaction (thinking Nippon needs more of an ocean buffer around the home islands and that a showdown with the American Navy is necessary) leads directly to the Admiral Yamamoto plan that results in the Pacific War turning-point battle of Midway, in which Japan loses four of her precious fleet aircraft carriers. Honored heroes all (MGM will document the mission in the 1944 movie "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," starring Spencer Tracy as Colonel Doolittle and Van Johnson as pilot Lt. Ted W. Lawson), at the United States Air Force Academy, a trophy case bottle of brandy awaits the someday toast of the last survivor of the attack (since moved to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio ... because of their ages, the last "final toast" took place on 11/9/2013 ... the last survivor, Doolittle's co-pilot, Colonel Richard Cole is 102 years young!).
Doolittle Prepping Bomb
On The Way
Japanese Picket Boat On Fire
Captured Doolittle Flier Robert L. Hite
(Who Will Live To Be 95)
The Silver Goblets For Toasting
1943 - Remember Pearl Harbor, Part Two ... Operation Vengeance, the longest fighter intercept mission of the war takes place (600 miles out, and a straight line back to base of 400 miles)! Using secret information provided by the "Purple" decoding machine (the mission is so important it needs to be authorized by Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, and President Roosevelt himself), over the South Pacific island of Bougainville, sixteen American pilots flying twin-engined P-38 fighters (specially equipped for the mission and based at Henderson Field on the recently captured island of Guadalcanal) attack two "Betty" bombers (and their escort of six Zero fighters) carrying Japanese Admiral Isoroku Takano Yamamoto (the architect of the 12/7/1941 sneak attack on American bases in Hawaii) and his staff. Sayonara, bye-bye bad guy ... the American fighters achieve their assignment perfectly, arriving just a minute before their target comes out of the clouds, and at 9:35 in the morning, Lieutenant Thomas Lanphier shoots off the right wing of Yamamoto's transport, sending the admiral off to meet his ancestors in a flaming wreck that crashes into the jungle (it is now believed by many military historians that pilot Rex Barber actually got the kill and both men are now credit for a half kill for shooting down the admiral's bomber) ... only First Lt. Raymond K. Hine is lost on the mission, a devastating blow to the Japanese Navy.
Earlier In The Day
Lanphier, Besby Holmes, and Barber
Down He Goes - Painting By Don Hollway
Wreckage In The Jungle - Mission Accomplished!
1945 - Visiting front line American troops on the island of Le Shima (during the opening days of the Pacific War's Okinawa campaign), beloved Pulitzer prize winning WWII foxhole correspondent Ernie Pyle fails to keep his head down when the jeep he is riding in comes under enemy fire (after taking cover in a nearby ditch), and at the age of 44, is killed by a Japanese machine-gunner (actor Burgess Meredith will portray the writer in the 1945 movie, "The Story of G.I. Joe").
Pyle - 1945
Sharing A Smoke With Marines On Okinawa
Pyle Memorial On Le Shima
1945 - Leading a U.S. Army company into the German city of Nuremberg, 20-year-old First Lieutenant Michael J. Daly of New York City single-handily takes out a German machine gun (killing its three gunners) with his carbine, attacks an enemy patrol about to launch a rocket ambush on American tanks (killing all six enemy soldiers), takes out another machine gun position (and kills its two gunners), and then from ten yards away, destroys a third German machine gun and its crew ... actions that result in Daly being promoted to Captain, and being awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor in August of 1945 at the White House.
Medal Of Honor Ceremony
1945 - Unit pinned down near Lohe, Germany by rifle fire (a suburb of Nuremberg), machine pistols, and two heavy machine guns, 18-year-old U.S. Army Private Joseph F. Merrell launches a one-man attack that has him run a hundred yards through concentrated enemy fire to take out a four-man enemy position. Continuing forward with only three grenades after a sniper bullet destroys his rifle, he zigzags forward another 200 yards to get within throwing distance of a German machine guns ... two pineapples heaved, he then rushes the gun and takes out the surviving members of its crew, arms himself with a discarded Luger, and heads towards the second enemy gun, crawling 30 yards forward, killing four enemy soldiers but getting wounded in the stomach himself ... stumbling forward, he pitches his last grenade and the gun is no more ... seconds before fire from a machine pistol instantly kills the gallant soldier ... two German machine guns destroyed, 23 enemy soldiers killed, and company free to advance, for his actions, Daly is awarded a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor.