I thought I'd create a separate post from my other Doolittle Raiders post - this time with a rundown of the event and a bunch of photos. I left Oshkosh at 2am on Thursday the 15th and was able to get to Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio where the B-25s were mustering by 11:30am. I spent all day filming and taking photos, then missed the action at Grimes on Friday having spent most of the day visiting with a WWII veteran in Columbus. Friday evening I attended the official Doolittle Raiders dinner at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) which was simply amazing. Each of the four Raiders in attendance (Lt. Col. Dick Cole, Maj. Tom Griffin, Lt. Col. Bob Hite, and Master Sgt. David Thatcher) was escorted into the Modern Flight gallery where the dinner was held, and the crowd gave a standing ovation for each one. It was a very moving moment, and I felt honored to be in their presense. Just to show how important this event was to the Air Force, the keynote speaker for the night was none other than Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.
After leaving the dinner I met up with a good friend and we drove back out to Grimes Field where we took some night shots of the B-25s. Saturday morning we hustled out to the crowd line at the NMUSAF to see the B-25s come in and land on the runway just to the south of the museum. The Mitchells had taken off at 7am from Grimes in 90 second intervals, and arrived at the NMUSAF at about the same intervals. I think it is the closest I will ever come to what it must have looked and sounded like when the bombers returned from a mission during WWII. At 10am they opened the gates and allowed the public to go view the bombers up close. My friends and I spent six hours walking the static display line. You literally could not turn around without bumping into a WWII veteran. It was really quite amazing. One of the highlights of the day was being able to climb up on the wing of the B-25J "Panchito" and see a line of seventeen B-25s lined up.
Saturday evening was a lot of fun too, as some friends had a cookout at their hangar at Moraine Airpark in Dayton. Good food, good friends, and good conversation cannot be beat!
Sunday was a special day during the reunion. My friends and I spent part of the morning taking photos from a high vantage point alongside the road on the east side of the field before we (and a bunch of other photographers) were chased away by the base police. Apparently it is frowned upon to shoot photos "into" Wright-Pat. After that we headed to the other side of the field and scoped out a place on the west end of the field where we were "safe" from the base police and could get photos and videos of the B-25s as they took off heading west. They began taking off exactly at 12:30pm in 30-second intervals, then began forming up off to the south for a massive flyover in six waves over the Memorial Gardens where the Raiders were waiting. The flyover was scheduled for 1pm, and I can tell you that the first wave was over the Memorial Gardens exactly at 1pm! Those crews were really on time and on target!
After the crowds dispersed, my group of friends all headed back out to Grimes Field to watch a few of the remaining B-25s give rides. That evening the folks at Moraine Airpark held another cookout, and gave my friends and I rides in their WACO biplanes. It was the perfect ending to a what can only be called an "EPIC" event! And now for the photos:
EAA Timeless Voices Program Coordinator & Museum Collections Assistant
"Let No Story Go Untold!"