On 78th Anniversary of Doolittle Raid, Air Force Does Battle Against a New Foe

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Crew No. 1: Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner. (U.S. Air Force photo colorized by Lori Lang)
Doolittle Raid Crew 1

Lt. Col. David Faggard is director of Public Affairs at Air Force Global Strike Command.

Nearly eight decades ago, on April 18, 1942, a band of airmen known as the Doolittle Raiders lined the deck of the USS Hornet in their B-25 Mitchell bombers, riding the uneasy waves of the Pacific Ocean. Readying to strike the heart of the mighty Japanese Empire - Tokyo - these bold and innovative airmen took the fight to an enemy who had earlier attacked the Hawaiian Islands.

The airmen focused their surprise offense with what they had available to them, 16 medium bombers outfitted with just four 500 pound bombs; they chose to strike the enemy’s heart in aviation’s first long-range strike operation. They chose that target not because it was easy, but because it was necessary, for the nation.

It was one of the first bold actions that would later shape our nation’s long-range strike team.

These aviators were the best of us and we must remain deeply humbled and honored to carry on their legacy as Strikers. With the passing of the last of these aviation giants, it is up to us to carry on their legacy through our Striker culture.

Today, Strikers find ourselves battling once again, preserving health while balancing risk to mission during a global pandemic. Risk is balanced now inside the flightdeck and on the flightline, from the maintainers down into the capsules.

Strikers are charged with providing lethal combat power, anywhere, anytime. With overwhelming force, America’s long range strike force remains postured and ready to strike any target with overwhelming and decisive power. Prepared to fight-and win-in all conditions.

All conditions.

As the alliance’s only ICBM and bomber fleet, Strikers are once again innovating boldly by managing a global mission with new challenges at every turn.

This is a new and historic time where bold leaders are required to make bold decisions to ensure the enterprise remains safe, secure and effective. Strikers operate in isolation and thrive in that environment like no other force can. They haven’t missed a beat and continue to lead by standing on the shoulders of giants like Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders.

These airmen are the nation’s ace in the hole. There is a growing and insatiable demand for global strike on speed dial. We’re mentoring bold innovators and we seek the next generation of airmen ready to lead. Whether it’s hypersonics, reinventing an aging platform, or providing new options to combatant commands, long range strike will be there.

Our airmen fly, maintain and employ an American arsenal that’s older than their parents. But, the nation is counting on us, and we’ll meet any challenge and any crisis head-on.

-- The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Military.com. If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to opinions@military.com for consideration.

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Opinion World War II