Second World War: Doolittle Raid

Account of a participant in the Doolittle Raid, America's response to the attack on Pearl Harbor during the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

His auto license began with the letters PW because he was a former prisoner of war. During the Second World War, this unassuming man, Thomas C. Griffin of Cincinnati, Ohio, took part in the Doolittle Mission of April 18, 1942, which is said to have changed the course of history. Equally important to Americans everywhere, and. in every time, it exemplifies the meaning of genuine patriotism and true heroes' mettle. 

It was a rare privilege to hear from a participant's lips the detailed and personal account of the Doolittle Raid, sometimes referred to as "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." Tom Griffin graduated from the University of Alabama, where he gained his first military training in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, ROTC. After further training, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.

A few weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, Tom's unit, the 17th Bomb Group, was sent to South Carolina. It was there that the Army asked for secret-mission volunteers. Tom said, "Twenty crews from our group were sent to Eglin Field in the Florida Panhandle; there we learned that Jimmy Doolittle would lead us on this mission."

Tom Griffin smiled as he said, "He was known as Jimmy to the public, but we soldiers called him 'sir' and 'colonel.' I still call him general to his face, but here at my kitchen table, I call him Jimmy."

Tom Griffin continued his account of preparations for carrying out the still-secret mission. "Doolittle trained us to take B-25 bombers off an aircraft carrier's deck. This had never been done before. To take a fully loaded B-25 off at 400 feet instead of 1,200 - that was the trick.

"President Roosevelt wanted to retaliate immediately for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The only way at that time to get at the Japanese main islands was by long-range Billy Mitchell bombers taking off from a carrier deck. That's what we trained for, and that's what we did."

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