Museum Marks Doolittle Raid’s 76th Anniversary

From the Robert Bailey illustration, “Avenging Strike” ANAM collection    The lead Mitchell B-25 bomber of the famed Doolittle Raid takes to the skies from the deck of Alameda’s USS Hornet on April 18, 1942.

A 76th anniversary commemoration of the famed Doolittle Raid, America’s first counter-strike against Imperial Japan in World War II, will take place this Saturday, March 31, as the Alameda Naval Air Museum (ANAM) does its fourth reprise of the event.

The bold, long-shot raid was “Alameda’s contribution to the war effort,” said Robbie Dileo  Secretary Treasurer for ANAM. “We want to commemorate what Naval Air Station Alameda did in America’s first, profound step towards a long, hard-won victory.”

This first blow against the enemy shattered “Japan’s psyche of invincibility,” said Larry Pirack, President of ANAM. “We were just trying to fight back after Pearl Harbor. We got knocked down and got back up and punched them in the chin.”

The daring raid launched on April 18, 1942, from the decks of the USS Hornet aircraft carrier CV-8, that was brought to Alameda to load the B-25 bombers and the 100 men who crewed them.

The Hornet put to sea from Alameda on the most prophetic April Fool’s Day in U.S. history en route to Target Tokyo, the name that later became the title of a 1945 Ronald Reagan movie. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo starring Spencer Tracy as Native Alamedan Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle also depicted the raid on the silver screen.

Doolittle led the top-secret mission, piloting one of the bombers. The raiders bombed targets critical to the Japanese war effort.

“Many, especially younger people don’t know about the fear of living on the West Coast in a time when the U.S. fleet was still debilitated after Pearl Harbor,” said Pirack. “No one knew if the Japanese fleet would suddenly appear offshore.” 

America was determined to exact some measure of revenge in a mission that many thought impossible. Doolittle expert Marshall Davis will present the full story of this incredible feat at the event Saturday. 

Visitors will enjoy a lasagna lunch in the Crow’s Nest dining room. Museum admission is included, so guests may also take in the museum’s myriad displays. 

The anniversary celebration starts at noon this Saturday at ANAM, located at 2151 Ferry Pt. Building no. 77. To find out more, call the museum at 522-4262 or visit