Doolittle Raid Anniversary to Feature Flyover

File photo A B-25 bomber takes off from the USS Hornet’s flight deck at the beginning of the 1942 Doolittle Raid.

Alameda Naval Air Museum’s (ANAM) motto — “Come see history in your own backyard” — will have special meaning this Saturday, April 1. The museum invites everyone young and old to visit Alameda Point, where they can look to the skies around 11:45 a.m. to witness a B-25 flying over the former Naval Air Station. The historical aircraft is making its appearance to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the departure of the USS Hornet CV-8 from Alameda Naval Air Station on April 1, 1942, to begin the Doolittle Raid.

Alameda’s native son Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle commanded the 16 Mitchell B-25 bombers, their five-man crews and Army maintenance personnel aboard the newly commissioned Hornet. These men changed the course of World War II when they bombed Japan on April 18, 1942, accomplishing what many considered an impossible task. The Navy and Army conceived the raid to retaliate against Japan for the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. They would secretly launch an airstrike from the Hornet to Japan’s surprise. 
 
“We’ve hosted two successful Doolittle historical walks with historian Marshall Davis from Petaluma’s History Connection,” said ANAM secretary-treasurer Robbie Dileo. “We spoke with Marshall last fall. He told us he wanted to celebrate the 75th anniversary not only with his history walk, but with something extra special to make the occasion a memorable one — a B-25 flyover.” 
 
Davis approached every owner of a B-25 and was fortunate enough to find one available and ready to fly on April 1. “Michael Hohls, a pilot and Commemorative Airforce Museum member in Camarillo, Calif., became the guy with the B-25,” he said. 
 
Davis said that other B-25s were going to the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, for events remembering Doolittle’s bombing raid on April 18, 1942.
 
Dileo said that procuring the plane cost a small fortune, not only in money, but in time. She needed to navigate the various regulatory agencies to get all the approvals in order. The stars aligned late afternoon, Thursday, March 23.
 
“The collaboration among government entities and the sheer will and determination of the museum’s volunteer staff and visionary directors meant there would be a B-25 fly over,” she said, “ANAM would like to especially thank the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the City of Alameda for their help.”
 
“Having the B-25 come was like climbing Mt. Everest and getting to the top. Thanks to all who made it possible,” said Larry Pirack, ANAM president and curator.
 
Dileo pointed out that development planned for Alameda Point will spell the end to airplanes flying over the former Naval Air Station. The last planes to do so included some B-25s that craned everyone’s necks in 1996 as a prelude to base closure in 1997. “There is no charge to see the flyover, but the museum is grateful for any donations received to defray the $8,500 cost to bring the B-25, Mike Hohls and his copilot to Alameda,” Dileo said. The museum has received donations and pledges from its members and the Bay Area’s Commemorative Airforce Golden Gate Wing. ANAM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. 
 
After the B-25 has departed — around noon if all goes as planned — the VA and the Fish & Wildlife Service plan to open the fence to allow visitors to walk the runway that Doolittle’s arriving planes used on March 31, 1942. 
 
Then at 1:15 p.m., Davis will lead his history walk. The walk costs $10 and includes admission to the museum, where guests can enjoy, among other displays, information about the Doolittle Raid. Doolittle Raid family members are scheduled to appear. The VA and the Fish & Wildlife Service will offer updates. Participants will also enjoy military and vintage vehicles and meet people in period attire.
 
Dileo encourages folks to arrive at 10 a.m., buy an “admission button” for $10 and enjoy the museum’s displays before the arrival of the B-25. “In fact, the souvenir button includes Marshall’s walk and admission to the museum anytime in April,” Dileo said. “Button holders can return and enjoy the special exhibits at a leisurely pace that will cover Doolittle, his Raiders, the modified B-25s and more.”
 
“The flyover honored a promise made 20 years ago to ANAM founders Marilyn York and Barbara Baach,” Dileo said. Added determination came in honoring her deceased father, World War II veteran Jim Kilpatrick.
 
The Alameda Naval Air Museum is located at 2151 Ferry Point, Building 77, near the Seaplane Lagoon just off West Atlantic Avenue. The museum is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. To learn more about Saturday’s event or the museum, call 522-4292, email tellus_anam@aol.com or visit alamedanavalairmuseum.org. 
 
The Alameda Museum, 2324 Alameda Ave. will host a lecture about Jimmy Doolittle at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 27.

Comments

Kimberlee MacVicar

Nice article and love the photo. The USS Hornet Museum, also at Alameda Point, is having a Doolittle event on Tuesday, April 18, at 11 am, which will include stories from one of the Hornet CV-8 crew members, Richard Nowatzski. Great fun to spend the entire month celebrating Alameda's own, as well as the courage of all those crew members and Raiders. Super cool to have three Alameda-based museums marking this 75th anniversary.

Chuck Lantz

Does anyone know where in Alameda Doolittle lived?

EKos

The home Alameda native Jimmy Doolittle was born in is currently located on Foley Street. In the early part of the 20th Century, developer George Noble (who has a street named for him nearby) moved the home from its original location at the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Foley Street to where it sits now, just down Foley with a magnolia tree in front of it.