Ellsworth Air Force Base S.D. --
Multiple B-1 bombers from Ellsworth will travel to Dayton, Ohio, for the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid which will include a high-speed flyover and the unveiling of the “Ruptured Duck” nose art.
The average Airman may not know too much about the names of the local bomb squadrons, but it should be understood that Ellsworth’s very own 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons were the same squadrons selected in 1942 from the 17th Bomber Group by Lt. Col. James Doolittle to attempt a dangerous mission now known as the Doolittle Raid.
The Raid was a daring plan to attack the Japanese homefront with hopes of raising the morale of allied troops who suffered multiple defeats at the hands of the seemingly invincible Japanese forces.
Although faced with adversity and unpredictable circumstances, such as launching from approximately 150 miles farther than they anticipated, they completed the mission and forever enshrined their names in history.
Several members of the 34th and 37th BS will continue to uphold and honor the legacy created those 75 years ago at various anniversary events.
“Every day is a day to remember our heritage,” said Capt. Devin Ivy, an instructor pilot assigned to the 34th BS. “We set aside time during briefs to have short history lessons about the squadron, which helps put into perspective the impact the 34th has had in history.”
The squadron hasn’t just kept its name from the past, but also its innovative tendencies to get the mission done, Ivy said.
“Innovative, that is the word I would use to describe our history as a bomb squadron,” said Capt. Scott Cermenaro, a weapons system officer instructor assigned to the 34th BS. “Just like the B-25s taking off from aircraft carriers, which was unheard of at the time, the B-1 is constantly being upgraded and enhanced from what was originally just supposed to be a low-level bomber, to now one of the most important aircraft we have at our disposal.”
Not just anyone was selected to participate in the flights. Those selected were the best of the best, honoring the legacy of the selfless and heroic actions of the 80 members involved in the Doolittle Raid.
“Awards and certificates are cool and everything, but this is an opportunity that will stick with me the rest of my life,” said Capt. Michael Riddick, an instructor pilot assigned to the 34th BS. “Being able to honor the sacrifices of the lost Raiders and help remind people of their story is a humbling experience.”
Three quarters of a century have passed since the Raid, and only one living member remains, which gives each and every celebration even more meaning to the service members involved.
“I met [Richard] Cole three years ago at an air show in Florida,” said Capt. Bret Cunningham, an instructor pilot assigned to the 34th BS. “It was such a humbling experience meeting a living piece of history. It really helps put the importance of what we do into perspective.”
The Raider’s legacy also reminds Ellsworth Airmen that freedom requires sacrifice. They launched knowing that safe landings were out of the question, but they went anyway without hesitation. This is a lesson that can be passed down to future generations about what it takes to be a hero, Cermenaro said.
The 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid will be commemorated with various events on April 17 and April 18. For more information, go to www.nationalmuseum.af.mil, www.wpafb.af.mil, www.facebook.com/WPAFB, or www.facebook.com/AFMuseum