Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Launch Site for the Doolittle Raid

The memorial plaque is located at Pier 3, in the former Alameda Naval Air Station, right next to the U.S.S. Hornet. The plaque commemorates the site from which the bombers and their crews left U.S. soil on their way to complete their mission over Japan.

The Doolittle Raid was the first U.S. air raid to strike at the Japanese home islands during World War II. On April 18th, 1942, sixteen B-25 bombers were launched from the U.S.S. Hornet in the western Pacific Ocean. The raid, planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, was intended to boost American Morale following the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as rattle Japanese defensive forces with an attack on their home territory. Given the limited range off the B-25 bombers used in the raid, the plans called for the bombers to attack Japan and then land in China, with the crews making their way by land back to U.S. controlled territories. All of the aircraft used in the raid were lost and 11 crewmen were captured and killed by Japanese forces. One of the aircraft landed at Vladivostok, Russia where the bomber was confiscated and the crew were interned for a year.

Nearly fourteen entire crews, out of the sixteen that flew the mission, returned to the U.S. safely. The raid caused negligible damage to Japanese cities, but it led to several changes in their overall battle plan, most notably the withdrawal of the Japanese Naval Aircraft force from the Indian Ocean to protect the Home Islands. In retaliation for the Chinese assistance that was offered to the American flight crews, the Japanese occupation forces killed nearly 250,000 Chinese civilians.

Getting There By Bike...
The plaque is located right next to the U.S.S. Hornet. There are a number of other sites nearby; Alameda Terminal, and the memorial for the flight of the China Clipper are on the base.

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