WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Brown, the original author of the legislation, led the effort to obtain 78 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, nine more than the 67 necessary for consideration by the full Senate. The legislation followed a Senate Resolution Brown introduced in 2012 on the 70th Anniversary of the mission.
“The bravery of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders exemplifies our nation’s highest ideals and values,” Brown said. “I hope that members of the House will act quickly on this legislation to honor these veterans for their selflessness and courage.”
In the first offensive action by the U.S. military following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 80 men—who became known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders—volunteered for an for an “extremely hazardous mission” without knowing the target, location, or assignment. The raiders—led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle—launched their B-25 Mitchell Bombers 650 miles from their target. After hitting their military and industrial targets in Tokyo and five other cities, they were low on fuel and facing deteriorating weather. As a result, all 16 airplanes were forced to crash-land in China or Russia.
Of the eight Raiders who were captured, three were executed, one died of disease, and four returned home. Their mission traveled an averaged distance of 2,250 nautical miles over a period of 13 hours, making it the longest combat mission ever flown in a B–25 Mitchell bomber.
On November 9, three of the four remaining Raiders celebrated their final reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The meeting marked the last planned gathering of the living Raiders and was celebrated by the opening of an 1896 bottle of Hennessy cognac, originally given to Jimmy Doolittle on his 60th birthday. The celebration further emphasized the need to pass this legislation to honor heroism and courage of the Raiders.
Since 1776, a diverse group of individuals has been honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, including Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, George Washington, Robert Frost, Joe Louis, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Congressional Gold Medals have also been awarded to Neil A. Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon; Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.; Michael Collins; and John Herschel Glenn, Jr.
When passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, a Congressional Gold Medal will be awarded to each of four surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders. The evening Brown introduced the legislation, the fifth surviving crew member, Major Tom Griffin a Cincinnati-native passed away. Major Griffin was the Navigator on Plane #9. His medal will be presented to his next of kin. In addition to the Raiders, the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio will receive a sixth medal to be displayed with the Doolittle Tokyo Raider’s goblets currently on display.