By Airman 1st Class Mercedes Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of Team Little Rock honored the legacy of the Doolittle Raiders on April 18 in Hangar 1080 at Little Rock Air Force Base.
This toast is made annually to honor the courage and sacrifice of the Doolittle Raiders. This year, Team Little Rock hosted the 74th anniversary toast. With the only two surviving members Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, B-25 Crew #7 engineer/gunner and 100-year-old Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, B-25 Crew #1 co-pilot.
Eighty men volunteered for a dangerous mission to retaliate against the Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack on April 18, 1942, during World War II. The raid went down in history as the Allies’ victory and a turning point in the war.
“The psychological effect helped turn the momentum of the war,” said Jeff Thatcher, Children of the Doolittle Raiders president and son of Staff Sgt. David Thatcher. “The Doolittle Raid was a tremendous morale boost for the United States and eventually led to victory in the Far East.”
Seventy-four years later, the raid continues to have an impact on not just the aerospace community but also the family members.
“This ceremony is especially significant for me since the 19th Airlift Wing received the James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle Award in 2014 for significant contributions to airpower history such as having multiple flying roles in the Air Force” Thatcher said during his remarks.
Before making the toast, Thatcher presented a commemorative gold medal to Col. Charles Brown, 19th AW commander, and the members of Team Little Rock for their professionalism and support in honoring the Doolittle Raiders.
“Thank you to the Raiders,” said Brown, “The raid proves that you can’t do it alone. The Doolittle Raiders made a partnership with the U.S. Navy and accomplished the mission. I find it fitting that we have the toast here today because that’s what we do so well here at the Rock. We create partnerships and more importantly we value our partnerships.”