The Latest News and Research


More information about the 17th Bomb Group and the 1941 War Maneuvers. Any other information about other groups, squadrons, or stories about the 1941 "War Maneuvers" are wanted as well. If you have any information, please email the webmaster at:

09 April 2019 has been inactive for quite a while. We received the sad news this morning that the last living Doolittle Raider, Lt. Col. Richard E. "Dick" Cole, passed away today in San Antonio, Texas. The webmaster was honored to consider him a friend and he will be sorely missed. He was the last of the 80, and a kind, friendly man who was always gracious and considerate to those who wanted to know more about him and his fellow "Raiders." Our condolences to his family and friends.

25 June 2010 regrets to inform you that another Doolittle Raider, Lt. Col. Frank A. Kappeler, passed away this Wednesday in California. This leaves seven surviving Raiders.

20 June 2010

Join the official Doolittle Raiders Facebook fan club here:!/DoolittleTokyoRaiders?ref=ts

19 August 2009 was saddened to hear that navigator Bert Hartzell, who trained with the Doolittle Raiders and was one of the men who went on the USS Hornet as a spare passed away yesterday at his home in Santa Clara, California.

28 November 08 has just learned of the passing of Doolittle Raider Ed Horton.

25 November 08 has just learned of the passing of Doolittle Raider Maj. Gen. Davey Jones.

12 June 08
Tacoma, Washington

The US Submarine Veterans of Tacoma, Washington hosted Edward Saylor, the Engineer and Chief Mechanic on plane #15 in the Doolittle raid as their guest speaker on June 12th. Click here for their website:

29 May 08
Eglin AFB, Florida

This weekend the Doolittle Raiders are in Florida to take part in a reenactment of the B-25's short-takeoff practice before the Raid. More information can be found at the links below:

17 Mar 08
Jacob DeShazer


We regret to inform the reader that we just learned of the passing of Doolittle Raider, POW survivor, Christian, missionary, and friend, Jacob DeShazer.

29 Jan 08
News Flash: Profile Updated based on markings research!

According to the latest research peformed by we believe we have a new, more accurate (ie. not perfect) profile interpretation of the 16th B-25 flown by Lt. William Farrow.

Click here to read the full story.

29 Jan 08
Doolittle Raiders Reunion Information

The 66th anniversary reunion will be held in Dallas, April 16-20th. More information can be found at:

In Memoriam
Nolan Herndon

10/08/07 News Item


COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There is sad news about the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders in South Carolina. Nolan Herndon has passed away. 

Herndon became a hero in many people's eyes for being one of the first Americans to bomb Japan back in April of 1942.

WIS spoke with Herndon at Owens Field on Veteran's Day in 2000. The Edgefield native said he clung to his faith during the dangerous raids.

"I think I wore out the 23rd Psalm flying in those three hours. I just kept going over and over it."

Herndon's family tells WIS News 10 he died Sunday morning.

He was 88 years old. 

His funeral will be held Wednesday at 2pm at Edgefield United Methodist Church. Viewing will be held from 1pm-2pm at the church.

In Memoriam
Chase Jay Nielsen
1917 ~ 2007

3/26/07 News Item

Doolittle Raider Chase Nielsen has passed away, leaving 14 surviving Doolittle Raiders.

Funeral arrangements are noted here:

3/22/07 News Item

Apparently, Doolittle Raider and former POW Chase Nielsen is not well at this time and may not be with us much longer. More information is available at:

11/21/2006 News Item

In Memoriam
William L. Birch
1917 ~ 2006
Veteran United States Army Air Forces, Doolittle Raider, Friend of many

It is with sadness that we note the passing of Doolittle Raider William L. Birch. Mr. Birch was born in Calexico, California on September 7, 1917 and graduated from Kern County High School in 1935. He joined the United States Army Air Force in September 1939, trained as a bombardier, and by 1942 was a Staff Sergeant in the 34th Bomb Squadron. When the squadron was asked, Mr. Birch was among those who volunteered for the Tokyo Raid. He took part in the Raid as the bombardier of the #11 aircraft flown by Capt. Ross Greening. Their aircraft made a bomb run on an oil refinery and attacked a patrol boat headed out of Tokyo Bay to the China Sea. The crew bailed out at night over China and were assisted by Chinese villagers. After the raid Birch went through pilot training, received his wings and commission as an officer in June 1943, and flew B-24s.  He left the Air Force in 1945 and was married in 1947. He worked with his father in his butcher shop and did machinist work until becoming a commercial helicopter instructor in 1964. In the late '60s he was forced to retire as a result of a crash which broke his back.
According to those who knew him, Mr. Birch was known as one of the sweetest men. He lived in Santa Ana, California until October 1st of this year, then moved to Temecula staying with his grandson & family until his death. Mr. Birch passed away on Saturday, November 18, 2006. He was preceded in death by his wife. He enjoyed writing poetry, and enjoyed taking care of stray animals along with his wife. He was proud to be an American.

Some quotes from his journal reflect his feelings about having been a member of the Doolittle Raiders and their place in history:

"Of all the accolades that our group has received over the years, the one I treasure most is in the statement made by Admiral William F Bull Halsey at the time, ""In my opinion, their flight was one of the most courageous deeds in military history."" - "I felt proud that I had met the enemy and prevailed.  In some small way our group had helped avenge that infamous Sunday, Dec 7 1941.  I was certain that our group had paved the way and our America would rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of defeat and despair and ultimately gain victory over the oppressors of the world".

There are now 15 Doolittle Raiders living, a remarkable number considering that the Raid took place almost 65 years ago, a fact for which we are truly grateful as we approach Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.

7/06/2004 Research/ News Item

It's time to release the promised picture!

First, please read this:

Many people have asked why the Raid took place and if it did any significant damage at all.

From the early planning stages of the operation, the planners of the Doolittle Raid understood their limited possibilities due to the small number of planes involved. The mission was viewed as a morale-booster for American forces as well as a hoped-for surprise attack and symbolic show of strength, showing our will to fight back, and a hopeful portent of what the Japanese could expect in the future. That understood, the crews were assigned to military-related targets in the hopes of causing real damage.

Our information on targets in Japan at the time was actually fairly good thanks to the excellent work done by Lt. Cmdr. Steven Jurika during his time as the assistant naval attaché at the American Embassy in Tokyo from 1939-1941. From his work, a list of military and industrial targets such as aircraft factories, naval targets, metal industries, and the oil industry, had been selected in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, Yokahama, and several other major Japanese cities. [1]

During the voyage on the USS Hornet, each crew was allowed to pick their target city targets. And was then given a folder of target data for use on their mission. [2]

Aircraft #13Ten of the crews chose to bomb targets on the Tokyo area.  Three crews chose to attack the Nagoya and Osaka areas and two of the crews chose to attack Yokahama. The thirteenth bomber piloted by Lt. Edgar McElroy and Lt. Richard Knobloch ended up attacking the naval base in Yokasuka. [3]

After all sixteen bombers successfully launched from the Hornet, the crew of the thirteenth aircraft proceeded on course to their targets along with the other fifteen bombers. From the after-action reports it is known that fifteen of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs. [4]

Apart from a few photos published in Destination: Tokyo by Stan Cohen [5] and a few other places, very little is known about actual damage done to the various targets, although damage was certainly done. The initial Japanese reports on the damage were rather exaggerated and inaccurate. Later reports were more reasonable but still somewhat cryptic and possibly slanted to prevent embarrassment. For sure, there was a tight secrecy after the attack throughout Japan. [6]

McElroy's crew definitely did some damage. The following is an excerpt from page 126 of Col. C. V. Glines' (Ret.) excellent book The Doolittle Raid:"McElroy had no difficulty getting off, although Williams said, "Like all the rest, I was very scared and prayed that we would make it." Following Greening and Bower, McElroy flew about 250 feet above the water. As they neared the Japanese coast, Campbell estimated they were about one hundred miles too far north of Tokyo. McElroy immediately racked the B-25 into a left turn and paralleled the coast southward as Campbell suggested. Dick Knoblock noted, "The navigators in the other two planes must not have come to the same conclusion, although all three of us had the same target. Greening's ship turned right, while Bower continued straight ahead." 

Just as the target area was identified along Tokyo Bay, they were met with a heavy antiaircraft barrage; McElroy dived behind a hill. When the ships in dry dock were seen, McElroy climbed rapidly to fifteen hundred feet. He called for bomb bay doors open, and Bourgeois toggled off the first two bombs quickly, then the other two. Looking back, Knoblock saw a large ship-loading crane "fly into the sky and then break into a thousand pieces. A floating dry dock in which a merchant ship was being converted into an aircraft carrier suddenly toppled onto its side like a toy boat in a bath tub. Nearby workshops exploded."

Williams, in the rear, reported that the first bomb hit an aircraft carrier in dry dock but he couldn't see where the last three hit. Bourgeois couldn't see the results of his work but "as we headed out to the ocean I could see smoke coming from the target area," he recalled.

Campbell reported, "I was taking pictures with Dick Knobloch's candid camera and got one of the target on our approach to it and another just as the bombs were exploding, taken through the navigator's side window and as straight down as possible. I took two more photos later, one of them of a typical Japanese fishing boat about two hundred miles down the coast. These were the only combat photos to survive the raid."This ship mentioned in the text was the ship Ryuho. It was a former submarine depot ship (TAIGEI) [7] and was indeed in the process of being converted to a light aircraft carrier similar to the Shoho and Zuiho which were also former submarine tenders. According to Anthony Tully's' Kido Butai! the ship took one hit from a direct bomb hit on the bow (500 lb. probably) and 30 incendiary hits of which 8 were duds... (That doesn't sound like a very good percentage on those incendiaries to my way of thinking...) causing light damage. Below is the promised picture. It shows a bomb hit to the side (forward?) of the Ryuho. It would appear that the bomb penetrated (where the translation says shell hole?) and exploded near the bottom of the ship. This would then be the first picture of a verified and readily identifiable bomb hit on a military target from a Doolittle Raider.

6/12/04 - Update!According to researchers on the ships message board thread, the Ryuho was probably in drydock number 5. Here's a link to a thread with a map and some further references:[1] The Doolittle Raid by Col. C. V. Glines (Ret.) Pgs. 23-27
[2] The Doolittle Raid by Col. C. V. Glines (Ret.) Pgs. 54-55
[3] Destination: Tokyo by Stan Cohen Pgs. 47-48
[4] Destination: Tokyo by Stan Cohen Pgs. 47-48
[5] Destination: Tokyo by Stan Cohen Pgs. 84-85
[6] The Doolittle Raid by Col. C. V. Glines (Ret.) Pgs. 215-216, 218-219
[7] Anthony Tully's' Kido Butai! at
Ryuho related Links: New- - part of a thread related to this story.

Special Thanks to David Aiken for sharing this photo and doing lots of research.

6/29/2004 (News Item):The Doolittle Raiders official website currently has a petition listed for a stamp honoring Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Col. C. V. Glines is spearheading this effort to honor Gen. Doolittle for his many accomplishments and contributions to aviation. Follow the link below to sign it.

1/19/2004 (News Item):

Excerpted from the Joplin Globe:

Col. Travis Hoover, age 86, Joplin, Mo., passed away Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004 at the Webb City (Mo.) Health and Rehabilitation Center. Col. Hoover was born Sept. 21, 1917 at Melrose, N.M. and was the son of the late Fred and Elizabeth Hoover. Col. Hoover was a pilot of the second (of only 16) Army Air Corps B-25 bombers to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on the Doolittle Tokyo Raid of April 18, 1942.Col. Hoover was taken to San Antonio, Texas and buried with full military honors next to his wife at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

[Picture Caption] The picture to the left was taken at the burial service at Fort Sam Houston. Fellow Raider Richard Cole was speaking to the reporters about Col. Hoover.


Research Item #2 was recently alerted to a B-25B airframe that is still in existence. According to sources involved with the airframe the serial number is 40-2347. If this is true, it would be the aircraft that came off of the North American Aviation assembly line just 3 aircraft after Doolittle's plane 40-2344! The aircraft is currently owned by Aero Trader in California. A company that has specialized in B-25 restorations around the country. It would be really neat to see this bird flying in Doolittle Raider markings someday on the airshow circuit. Anyone want to take up the challenge? I can assure you that if someone would, this website would give you all the assistance we can.

Below are some pictures of the B-25:

The owners' website is at

Research Item #1

This is a picture that was taken by a member of a Russian air force unit located at the field where Capt. York's aircraft landed. It was apparently taken on April 19th directly after the raid. Note the top turret cover in place and the heavy exhaust stains from the long flight. Also the .30 caliber machine gun stowed in the nose section. This picture also has the "3" marking on the nose of the aircraft. The picture was sent by Mr.Vladimir Plotnikov of Vladivostok. His website is located at www.vntc.ruBelow is an unedited portion of the text he sent with the picture. It was apparently translated from Russian, so please don't pick on the spelling or slightly tedious grammar."Some years back I would be engaged in search of the plane ? 40-2242 which in 18.04.1942 years has made landing in Russia. It was the plane of the captain of York. I managed to find people which met crew of the plane after his heroic road. On present time Boris Nazarov, the aircraft mechanic 39 fighter airshelf of Pacific Fleet (air station Unashi) which the first has met crew of the plane after his landing is alive and healthy. After sending crew of York to Khabarovsk and further (about adventures of crew in Russia co-pilot Robert Emmens in the book " Ghost of the Kremlin " has written) the plane - B-25b ? 40-2242 has remained in Russia. First it simply hid from extraneous supervision, and since 1944 on it flied in aircraft of Pacific Fleet. The plane carried out prospecting flights. Last time the plane flied an autumn of 1949 from air station Novorossija (Primorski Krai). By the end of 1950 the plane was disassembled and prekratid the existence. Probably, in Russia at that time nobody knew a historical value of the plane ? 40-2242. In 1999-2001 years to Russia there came my good friend from USA - aviation historian Walter Kurilchuk. It too was engaged in search of this plane. After trips to Russia it has written the book "Chasing Ghosts""

Mr. Plotnikov mentioned the book Chasing Ghosts. I have not seen this book yet, but will be watching for it. -webmaster

Updated 8/16/2003


Update: I think that I may have located this book, but have not been able to get a copy of it yet. There is a reference to it on the website at: There is also some more information on the picture on Todd Joyce's Doolittle Raider forum at

Another picture apparently taken at the same time can be viewed on the web at According to the source that found the link, the photograph is apparently from KGB files in Moscow, Russia.

Notice: All images on this page are property of or are used by permission of the owner.




To learn more about the Doolittle Raiders consider the following items:

Last website update:
March 17, 2008

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