TIL that because Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s B25 took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo in 1942, he was honorarily authorized to wear gold Naval Aviator Wings in uniform.

Read more: http://www.veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=344

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  1. Medal of Honor winner and later General Doolittle was in the US Army Air Force, the forerunner of the US Air Force. He planned and led a mission after the attack on Pearl Harbor to fly modified bombers off an aircraft carrier. The B-25 was much larger and had longer range than any naval aircraft, but the US had no land bases within range of Japan from which to launch the mission.

    Although the raid did little actual damage, it was a big morale booster, it showed the US troops that being able to get Japan on the defensive was only a matter of time.

    Although a landing field in China was picked out, there was bad weather and the pilots had difficulty finding the airstrip, as their planes were running out of fuel, they decided to parachute out.

    Doolittle and other were save by Chinese civilians and then led to an American living in China, John Birch. Birch was a missionary who was living in China at the time and was one of the few Americans fluent in Mandarin. Upon helping Doolittle and the others escape, Birch was given a commission in the US military and was assigned to the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA. Birch spent the remainder of the war in China helping the Chinese fight back against the Japanese occupation. After the surrender of the Japanese Birch was given the responsibility of escorting some of the remaining Japanese officers out of China.

    On one mission, Birch and his group were stopped by Chinese Communist rebels, refusing to hand over his gun and surrender, he was then shot in the leg, tied up, then shot in the head, and bayonetted. Some years later a staunch anti-Communist group, the John Birch Society, was formed in his honor. They considered him the first casualty in the war against communism.

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