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I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was not put together by the typical Facebook user.
One of the last living Doolittle Raiders died this week in northern Kentucky, less than two months before what will be final reunion of the famed group.
Maj. Thomas C. “Tom” Griffin served as a navigator on one of the 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers that attacked mainland Japan on April 18, 1942, in a daring raid that lifted the spirits of an American nation still demoralized from Pearl Harbor and numerous other Japanese victories.
With Griffin’s death there are just four surviving Raiders: Lt. Col. Richard Cole, of Comfort, Texas; Lt. Col. Robert Hite of Nashville, Tenn.; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor of Puyallup, Wash.; and Master Sgt. David Thatcher of Missoula, Mont.
The last surviving Raider pilot, Bill Bower, died in early 2011.
Griffin, 96, died Tuesday in a veterans nursing home in northern Kentucky.
He was among 80 men who took part in the hazardous mission. The attack on Tokyo, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles off the coast of Japan, shocked the Japanese and gave American morale a needed boost.
Secession talk is all the rage of late, with disaffected Americans from Alabama to Alaska saying it’s time to break away and form their own independent enclaves.
Most Americans remember what happened the last time secession was attempted on a major scale. While some argue the matter has never been satisfactorily resolved judicially, others point out that it was pretty clearly settled by the events of 1861-65.
Yet, despite the defeat of the Confederacy nearly 150 years ago and the ensuing belief in the inviolability of the Union, periodic secession movements have continued to crop up over the past century and a half.
Most, however, have focused on taking a piece of an existing state and breaking away to form a new state, such as West Virginia did in 1863.
Massachusetts, New York, Arizona and California are among states in recent years with small but vocal separatist elements, factions interested in snapping off parts of their respective states to form new independent entities.
In fact, California has had more than 200 such proposals since it became a state in 1851, with the first coming only a year after it was admitted to the Union, when northern Californians presented a bill to California’s State Legislature with the goal of creating the State of Shasta by combining areas of northern California and southern Oregon, according to the Mt. Shasta (Calif.) Herald.
One of the more interesting concepts for a new state involved the same region, just before World War II.
As long as I’ve been reading about World War II – some 35-plus years for those of you scoring at home – there’s been a faint but continuous drumbeat of revisionists who claim President Franklin Roosevelt not only knew the Japanese planned to attack Pearl Harbor, but that he welcomed the surprise assault as a way to get the US public to back our entry into the conflict on the Allied side.
FDR needed a jolt like Pearl Harbor, which occurred 70 years ago next week, to overcome America’s then-strong trend toward isolationism, it’s argued, and he was willing to sacrifice more than 2,400 American lives and a good bit of the US Navy on that fateful day to do so.
To be certain, hindsight has proven that there were intelligence warnings of an impending attack on Hawaii, and the decidedly overall unprepared nature of Pearl Harbor can’t help but raise eyebrows decades after the event.
But, as the Coyote Blog argues, this approach to history is not only simplistic, it fails to present an accurate picture of the situation at the time.
This is a fun but generally foolish game. The same game was played after 9/11, pointing to a few scraps of intelligence that were ‘ignored.’ But the problem in intelligence isn’t always lack of information, but too much information. In late 1941, the US government was getting warnings from everywhere about just about everything. It is easy as a historian to pick out four or five warnings and say they were stupidly (or purposely) ignored, but this fails to address the real point – that those warnings were accompanied by a thousand false or misleading ones at the same time. The entire Pacific theater had already had a whole series of alerts in the months leading up to Dec 7, one false alarm after another. It is Monday morning quarterbacking that strips the intelligence problem of its context. To prove that something unusual happened, one would have to show that these warnings were processed or prioritized in a manner that was unusual for the time.
Early indications are that a skull found while dredging Pearl Harbor this spring could well be that of a Japanese aviator killed during the historic attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
An excavation crew dredging the harbor recently made discovery. Archaeologist Jeff Fong of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific said forensic scientists are conducting tests on the skull, adding that early analysis has made him “75 percent sure” that the skull belongs to a Japanese pilot.
Fifty-five Japanese airmen were killed and 29 of their aircraft were shot down in early-morning surprise attack. By comparison, some 2,400 US service members died in the raid, which brought the US into World War II.
No Japanese remains have been found at Pearl Harbor since World War II.
One of the few remaining survivors from the USS Arizona, sunk on Dec. 7, 1941, with the loss of nearly 1,200 lives, died late last week at age 91.
Vernon Olsen, then just 21 years old, scrambled to his battle station atop the after mast of the Arizona that fateful Sunday morning nearly 70 years ago when Japanese planes struck.
Years later, he would tell of seeing a Japanese bomber coming in between the ship’s masts to drop a bomb while Olsen, manning a 50-caliber machine gun, waited helplessly for ammunition.
The plane was so close that Olsen could see the Japanese pilot grinning, he said in 1998 interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. When the bomb exploded, it all but obliterated the ship.
The last surviving pilot from the famous 1942 Doolittle Raid died last week at age 93.
Bill Bower was a 25-year-old first lieutenant who commanded one of 16 B-25 bombers that struck Japan in a top-secret mission less than six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Doolittle Raid didn’t do a great deal of material damage, but proved a great morale boost to Americans.
Bower, who lived in Colorado, was one of 80 men who participated in the raid, men who became known as the Doolittle Raiders. He attended many of the Raiders’ reunion events, including the 60th anniversary reunion, held in Columbia in 2002.
John Finn, one of the first Americans to take up arms against the Japanese when they bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts, died last week at age 100.
Finn was assigned to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on that fateful Sunday nearly 70 years ago when he found himself firing at Japanese planes from an exposed position for more than two hours despite being hit 21 times by bomb and bullet fragments.
Finn was credited by some with single-handedly shooting down a Japanese aircraft, but he would later say, “I can’t honestly say (for sure) I hit any, but I shot at every damn plane I could see.”
Finn stayed at his post until he received a direct order to seek medical attention. He later said that when he got to the sick bay, he saw many men worse off than he was, so he returned to the armory and spent the rest of the day and night supervising the repair of damaged weapons in preparation for whatever came next, according to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I know this sounds corny, but on December 7, I was just doing my duty and what I had been trained and paid to do since I was 17 years old,” he said in a 1984 interview.
During the attack, Finn secured a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a training stand in an exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy machine-gun fire from Japanese planes, his Medal of Honor citation says.
“Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety,” it continues.
In military circles, Finn was comparable to a rock star, according to the Union-Tribune. “People clamored for a handshake or to have a picture taken with him wherever he went.”