The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on 18 April 1942, was an air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu island during World War II, the first air raid to strike the Japanese Home Islands. It demonstrated that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, was retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, provided an important boost to U.S. morale, and damaged Japanese morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces. Sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible. Fifteen of the aircraft reached China, and the other one landed in the Soviet Union. All but three of the crew survived, but all the aircraft were lost. Eight crewmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of these were executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Fourteen crews, except for one crewman, returned either to the United States or to American forces.[1][2] An estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during their search for Doolittle's men.[3][4] The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, only hitting non-military targets or missing completely but it succeeded in its goal of raising American morale and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of its military leaders to defend their home islands. It also caused Japan to withdraw its powerful aircraft carrier force from the Indian Ocean to defend their Home Islands, and the raid contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific—an attack that turned into a decisive strategic defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy in the Battle of Midway. Doolittle, who initially believed that loss of all his aircraft would lead to his being court-martialled, received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two steps to Brigadier general. Instagram-@DAVFlightTeam Twitter-@DAVFlightTeam

Comments: 2592 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

ailyara1223 karma


DAVFlightTeam1699 karma

We sure did

delburne1085 karma

how old are you?

DAVFlightTeam2182 karma

97 years old. My birthday is coming up in September

DAVFlightTeam2815 karma

My daughter just corrected me. I am 98.5.

throwaway_quinn592 karma

What would you like for your birthday

DAVFlightTeam2420 karma

More time

G_Daddy_424 karma

Thank you sir for your service! My father also served and was at Iwo Jima.

DAVFlightTeam609 karma

Thank you and your father

bobbysr965 karma

Is it true that the last 2 surviving Raiders will open a bottle of aged bourbon?

dmukya1085 karma

They shared it November of last year. Vintage 1896.

DAVFlightTeam2620 karma

and it was delicous

DAVFlightTeam912 karma

Signing off now. Thank you all for your questions!

wafflesid768 karma

The idea of a b-25 taking off from a carrier must have been met with a lot of skepticism.

I seem to remember hearing about the training involved for this, and how you had to strip down the B-25 to reduce weight to make it possible.

Any chance you can elaborate on this part of the plan? When did you first hear that they were even considering it? Did you think it could be done?

DAVFlightTeam1000 karma

Well... we trusted in our commanding officer. If they said it could be done then we would make it happen.

Adamdaly567 karma

What was Jimmy Doolittle like? He obviously had huge cojones to even think up a raid like this but too also lead it. Was he kind of a thrill seeker having done air races in the inter war era?

DAVFlightTeam1271 karma

Doolittle was a great, great man and I am honored that I was able to serve under him. One quick story most people don't know is that he has a hunting cabin we would all go meet at. He always insisted on doing the dishes.

localgyro440 karma

The Doolittle raid was special, somehow. You gentlemen stuck together afterward in ways that other raiding groups didn't -- you had reunions, you kept track of each other. I used to spend time at the US Air Force Academy and regularly saw the Doolittle goblets, 80 silver goblets, each engraved with a participant's name. That always struck me.

Do you think that it helped you and your colleagues to have those reunions and to maintain those bonds, to recognize the passing of others over time? Can you talk a little about the goblets, the waiting bottle of cognac, and the ceremony of it all? Thanks.

DAVFlightTeam619 karma

Jimmy Doolittle was the driving force behind the raid, the cognac, the reunions and the goblets.

JoePants288 karma

History reports Jimmy Doolittle was a really great, a really gifted, pilot. Did you find that to be the case?

DAVFlightTeam437 karma


MomGinny355 karma

No questions here. Thank you for your service.

DAVFlightTeam510 karma

Thank you!

EvilTech5150296 karma


DAVFlightTeam385 karma

We were pretty young back then. Made it easier to move around in there.

DAVFlightTeam342 karma

They can be pretty tricky, but we were all young enough to get around it. > rtrayed (as Doolittle's co-pilot). I remember your quoted reply was great. Can you comment on that? Reddit would enjoy it.

DAVFlightTeam25 karma

We were pretty young back then. Made it easier to move around in there.

Call_erv_duty245 karma

No questions, just some Reddit advice. There's a lot of assholes here that will attempt to insult you. Don't worry about it. Plenty of people, myself included, hold men of your status very highly. You defended our country in a very dangerous time. Thank you for your service. I wish you the best

DAVFlightTeam221 karma

Thank you.

ergingspud239 karma

What did you do during the raid? What was your target?

DAVFlightTeam438 karma

I think the toughest part was the unknown. We weren't afraid though because we trusted in our commanding officer and knew we were doing something to help America.

RogueRainbow213 karma

What is your favorite aircraft?

DAVFlightTeam492 karma

The B-25 of course!

Nickhurley26211 karma

What was going through your mind during take off?

DAVFlightTeam454 karma

I was just following orders and doing my job.

OPisAgag189 karma

How did you get back from China after landing there?

DAVFlightTeam256 karma

I was one of the first hump pilots following the landing.

antair20179 karma

What was the toughest part about doing the doolittle raid?

DAVFlightTeam511 karma

Looking at that black hole when we had to jump out of a perfectly good airplane

DAVFlightTeam346 karma

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

DAVFlightTeam291 karma

Looking at that black hole when we had to jump out of a perfectly good airplane

dtlargr151 karma

As an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, I salute you for being patient enough to do an AMA about your service during WWII. Fortune favors the bold and history has proven that in the case of the Tokyo Raid of 1942. Thank you for having the courage to go where others couldn't and making that sacrifice so many years ago.

My only question is this, after so many years since of active duty, have you found anything that compares to the camaraderie and pure exhilaration experienced in war? I look at my enlistment as the best years of my life, to which nothing else will compare. Does the greatest generation feel the same about WWII? Again, thank you for your service to this great country. I am most appreciative to have learned English in school, instead of Japanese or German.

DAVFlightTeam164 karma

Thank you for your service

Those were some of the best gentlemen a guy could ask for

BucketheadRules123 karma

What was it like to see the battleships? Not necessarily destroyed, just in general. I've always been fascinated with the battleships.

Also, how scared were you to take off of a carrier in a medium bomber in high seas?

DAVFlightTeam165 karma

We weren't afraid. We just wanted to do our part. > What was it like to see the battleships? Not necessarily destroyed, just in general. I've always been fascinated with the battleships.

OzarksHiker123 karma

Ever get sick going from the jump seat down on the floor to crawl forward to the nose?

DAVFlightTeam156 karma

Not that I can remember!

Dropkick_Raider120 karma

Lt. Col. Cole, no questions from me, just wanted to say I've met you a few times at events in the Houston area and wanted to thank you for always taking the time to chat with us, and thank you for your service.

DAVFlightTeam166 karma

Well thank you and I hope to see you again soon!

JoshPointO116 karma

How were you selected for this mission? I believe my Grandpa was in the squadron from which the men for this mission were selected, although he was not selected because he was not experienced enough at the time (if I'm remembering correctly).

DAVFlightTeam381 karma

I volunteered.

Dontgooglenuggetporn113 karma

This may sound crass but are You still kicking ass and taking names in your later years? Thanks for being awesome.

DAVFlightTeam243 karma

He was still flying up until last year. - DAV Flight Team

Frozty23106 karma

What has contributed to your longevity, and does a day go by that you do not think about your role in history?

DAVFlightTeam178 karma

Just lucky I guess. My father lived to 96

former-reddit-lurker103 karma

What was the mood of the crew like knowing the flight was basically "one-way" into China? I'm in awe of what you all did and thank you for your service!

DAVFlightTeam181 karma

always positive b/c doolittle was so positive. He knew everyone's first names and treated them all with great respect.

YoungAndDumb_101 karma

First off I would like to apologize for all of the people that are saying mean thing about you and what you did. But if I'm perfectly honest, I respect what you did because it was nessecary military action. Now for my question. What was the general response of the crew when you learned of the mission you were going to pull off, did you realize the cost of it or did you just kind of put your heads down and get what needed to be done done? As a side note, thank you for your service

DAVFlightTeam158 karma

We were just doing our jobs and were honored to do so.

PRSNAFU97 karma

How much weight had to be removed from the bombers to make the flight possible? The usual depictions of the raid talk about fake guns and very stripped down planes...

DAVFlightTeam157 karma

we gutted them to make sure they could take off from the Hornet. not much was left.

Taskforce5889 karma

Thanks for being here! If you step into the cockpit of a B-25 now, do you still remember how to fly it?

DAVFlightTeam276 karma

It is just like riding a bike! I was flying one this time last year.

shanedoth87 karma

What kind of training did you receive to prepare for the whole "landing in China" part of the mission? If any, was it useful?

DAVFlightTeam151 karma

No training for bailout. We were hoping to land in the airstrips in China.

spitfire45184 karma

Did you ever meet Billy Mitchell? He stuck his neck out for the Air Force and got court-martialed. When air power became a huge deal, were there people who still did not believe? When did that stop being the case?

Thanks for your service!

DAVFlightTeam111 karma

I did meet him. Great man

LightGallons79 karma

What was your overall impression of the B-25 compared to other aircraft? it's my favorite design of the war and would love some first hand insight. Did it have any quirks?

DAVFlightTeam103 karma

It certainly had a few quirks after we essentially gutted it prior to the raid. We had to make sure they would be the right weight to take off from the Hornet. > the B-25 compared to other aircraft? it's my favorite design of the war and would love some first hand insight. Did it have any quirks?

Wut_Du_Fuq_Iz_Brunch15 karma

I was at an air show at MacDill AFB yesterday and saw "Panchito" the B-25. What a fantastic aircraft

DAVFlightTeam29 karma

We are at MacDill now with Panchito and the DAV Flight Team

UKBoomin57 karma

What was the hardest moment in the mission? What image is most memorable from the event considering it was so long ago

DAVFlightTeam140 karma

Taking off the carrier was a breeze! Being so low on the deck made it challenging to fly for so long. Most memorable part was when my parachute opened

BlatantConservative55 karma

What was your particular story?

DAVFlightTeam217 karma

I was Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot in the Doolittle Raid. We were in aircraft # 1


Favorite ice cream: vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate?

DAVFlightTeam129 karma



Thanks for the answer and your service. I will eat chocolate ice cream in your honor tonight.

DAVFlightTeam60 karma

hahah. Great! enjoy that

TeddyBearRoosevelt47 karma

I'm thrilled to be able to say thank you for your amazing service.

How do you think the U.S. is holding up, militarily-speaking?

DAVFlightTeam94 karma

Thank you. Best they can given the current constraints.

Riizzle41 karma

Thanks for doing this!

Were there any orders you were ever given which you disagreed with and struggled to carry out for that reason?

DAVFlightTeam74 karma

Certainly not. We were honored to be apart of something so great.

Buncey2436 karma


DAVFlightTeam97 karma

Just doing my job and hitting my target.

DAVFlightTeam51 karma

Just doing my job and hitting my target.

rileyk31 karma

Have you ever seen "Grave Of The Fireflies"? Would you care to? It tells the story of a brother and sister that were on the ground at the time bombs were dropped on Japan. It's absolutely heartwrenching, but I feel it's important to understand how both of our cultures feel about our involvement in this game-changing event in the history of humanity.

Edit: mobile words

DAVFlightTeam31 karma

I haven't seen that.

rhapdimp30 karma


DAVFlightTeam77 karma

I did some woodwork. Still do!

spatialcircumstances19 karma

When you were preparing for the raid, how concerned were you that you wouldn't come back?

DAVFlightTeam59 karma

We didn't really think about it. We were just honored to serve and do our job.

rustychrome4 karma

Thank you sir for your service.

DAVFlightTeam12 karma

Thank you for stopping by.

samwolf23 karma

Do you think the movie Pearl Harbor accurately depicted what happened?

Thank you for your service.

DAVFlightTeam7 karma

I never saw that movie. I guess I need to go rent it

Mollinator3 karma

WOW!!!! Thank you for your service. So impressive!

DAVFlightTeam3 karma

Thank you for stopping by.

pigpotjr2 karma

Any advice for a 16 year old?

DAVFlightTeam4 karma

Just to live your life to the fullest. Enjoy it!

HockeyCannon-3 karma

Why did you copy & paste a Wikipedia article in your header? You don't have any proof.

HockeyCannon23 karma

I'm very sorry to question you, but there are many liars here and you can never be too sure.

DAVFlightTeam66 karma

I completely understand. Thank you for checking. If anyone is in the Tampa area, please stop by and say hello. We are at the MacDill AFB's AirFest with the DAV Flight team. We will be out doing autographs from 10-1pm.