Sunday, May 23, 2010

Althouse 1, Birnbaum 0...

Ann Althouse embarrasses Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post – and in the process, nicely demonstrates why so many people distrust the lamestream media.

It's absolutely pathetic.

Doolittle Raiders...

On April 18, 1942 – just over 68 years ago – 80 American fliers in 16 B-25s launched from the decks of the carrier USS Hornet on a desperate mission to strike a defiant blow against Japan.  Just four months earlier, Imperial Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor dragged the U.S. into war, and a series of Japanese conquests and victories, with no Allied successes, had lowered U.S. morale badly.

President Roosevelt wanted some action to turn U.S. morale around, and eventually his call to action translated into a mission for Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. Very quickly he put together his team, training in secrecy on how to launch B-25s from carriers – something they were never intended to do.  The plan was to launch from a carrier, bomb Japan, and then land on beaches in China.  Every man on the team knew that their chances for survival were low, and for success even lower.  They went anyway, on the mission that will forever be known as the Doolittle Raid.

After the raid, when Doolittle found out that all 16 planes were lost and that very little damage was done, he told his team that he thought the mission was a failure and that he was likely to be court-martialed upon return.  Instead, of course, they were greeted as conquering heroes for having done something that every American wanted to do: figuratively punch Japan in the nose.

My introduction to the Doolittle Raid was Ted Lawson's little book 30 Seconds Over Tokoyo (Amazon: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (Aviation Classics)).  I have since read much more, but none better.

Last month was the 68th reunion of the few remaining survivors of the Doolittle Raid, in Dayton, Ohio.  To commemorate the occasion, someone arranged the largest gathering of flying B-25s in many, many years.  The video below is from that event.  The few scenes with the remaining survivors gave me goose-bumps, as did the scenes of those plucky planes flying over the airfield.  At this remove, it's difficult to fully imagine what those flyers faced that day, flying such comparatively primitive machines into an implacably hostile enemy's home – but it's easy to admire them, and to be grateful for their unbelievable courage.  I salute them!