This Veterans Day, we honor the Doolittle Raiders of WWII…

A B-25 bomber flyover helped cap an afternoon memorial tribute in which a wreath was placed at the Doolittle Raider monument outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. Some 10,000 people turned out for Veterans Day weekend events honoring the 1942 mission credited with rallying American morale and throwing the Japanese off balance.

Known as the Doolittle Raiders, the 80 men who risked their lives on a World War II bombing mission on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor, showed the nation that we were nowhere near defeat. ALL OF THEM volunteered for the mission which had high risks throughout, from the launch of B-25 bombers from a carrier at sea, the attack on Tokyo, and lack of fuel to reach safe bases afterwards.

Here’s why it matters…

Their mission would be considered an important event in turning the war’s tide. It was a victory for moral, more than the physical damage that it brought to the Japanese.

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.

Sixteen B-25B bombers were launched by themselves from the 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 west to land in China because landing a B-25 bomber on the 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 was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Fourteen crews, except for one crewman, returned either to the United States. An estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during their search for Doolittle’s men.

There are four surviving Doolittle Raiders as of this Veterans Day 2013.

A B-25 taking off from Hornet for the raid

The fact that the heroic actions of these 80 men changed the course of history, is an inspiration to not only today’s warriors, but to anyone and everyone.

It takes men (and women) with courage to be willing to sacrifice – to take a chance – to lead by example for what they believe in. It takes action.

Many people often think that the actions of just a few cannot make much of a difference in the big picture of things… but the thing is, it can make a VERY big difference.

The fact is, most people are followers who wish to avoid uncomfortable situations outside their normalcy. But the reality is that the actions of just a few can inspire the many, and even change the course of history…

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