Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Helps Award Doolittle Tokyo Raiders With Congressional Gold Medal

April 15, 2015
Press Release

Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today took part in awarding the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders with the Congressional Gold Medal for their heroic B-25 bomber attack on Japan in response to Pearl Harbor. This comes after both Rep. Olson’s bill, H.R. 1209, and its Senate companion bill, S. 381, introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown passed their respective chambers and was signed into law by President Obama last year. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. 

“It’s an honor to play a role in recognizing the heroism of the Doolittle Raiders," Olson said"These eighty brave Americans not only volunteered for this mission with zero knowledge of what it would entail, but they willingly put their lives in harm's way, risking death, capture, and torture to bring the fight to the Japanese homeland. This recognition is long overdue. I'm proud that Congress has finally honored their heroism by awarding them with the Congressional Gold Medal."

On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led seventy-nine airmen flying sixteen B-25 bombers on a daring and unprecedented attack on the Japanese mainland to avenge the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor four months earlier.  The bombers took off from the Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the western Pacific, struck their targets, and then made their way as best they could to friendly forces in China. Carrying limited fuel, fifteen of the aircraft crash-landed or ditched at sea, with one landing in Soviet Russia.  Three Raiders were killed during the crash-landings, five were interned by the Soviets for a year until they were able to escape, and eight were captured by Japanese forces. These prisoners were brutally tortured, one died of disease, and three were executed.  Seventy-three of the eighty Raiders who embarked from the USS Hornet returned home from the raid; all eighty will be remembered forever as true American heroes.

With the passing of Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite (co-pilot for Crew 16), last month, there are only two surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders: Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole of Texas (Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot) and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher of Montana. The Congressional Gold Medal will be presented to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Doolittle Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
L-R Sen. Maj. Leader McConnell, Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, Rep. Olson, Minority Leader Pelosi & Majority Whip Scalise