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Defense Department, Naval Institute to Webcast Doolittle Interview

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2009 – The Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate and the U.S. Naval Institute are remembering the 67th reunion of the Doolittle Raiders in a unique way this year, hearing from Gen. James H. Doolittle himself.

As part of a special tribute to the Doolittle Raid of 1942, institute officials have released for the first time Doolittle’s words from the 1983 interview, conducted in Monterey, Calif.

The Doolittle segment will launch tomorrow at 10 a.m. EDT on “Remembering Midway,” available on Pentagon Web Radio http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stations/PentagonRadioNetwork/Remembering-Midway. It also will be featured at http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/podcast.shtml, the podcast section of the Pentagon Channel’s Web site.

Besides the Doolittle Raid audio webcast, the emerging media directorate has produced three additional audio webcasts featuring key naval leaders who participated in the Battle of Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway.

Doolittle’s recollections were recorded in February 1983 as part of The U.S. Naval Institute’s Oral History Program. Based in Annapolis, Md., the institute has an expansive collection of archived tapes from key figures involved in the most crucial strategic planning and missions in naval history, dating back to 1969.

“The Doolittle Raid stunned the Japanese public with an attack on Tokyo, which their leadership had promised was impossible,” said Mary Ripley of the U.S. Naval Institute. “In those dark days following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, General Doolittle provided the nation with a badly needed victory that changed Japan’s perception of the war in the Pacific when he took off from the flight deck of the Hornet in June 1942.

“It is an honor to share this rare interview with General James Doolittle,” she continued. “It’s an example of how the institute’s oral history collection is a wonderful resource for this and other similar projects.”

Part of the interview will be presented at the Doolittle Raiders’ 67th Reunion in Columbia, S.C., tomorrow through April 18.

“We are honored to share this personally with the surviving Doolittle Raiders,” Ripley said.

Five of the nine surviving Doolittle Raiders are attending the reunion, with Navy Rear Adm. John Goodwin and Air Force Gen. Arthur J. Lichte among scheduled keynote speakers.

“We consider Columbia the home of the Doolittle Raiders,” said Ken Breivik, public affairs director for the Celebrate Freedom Foundation, who coordinated both the Doolittle Raiders’ 67th “Where Victory Began” reunion, as well as the group’s 60th reunion, also held in Columbia.

“Part of our initial interest in hosting the Doolittle Raiders was [that] after the movie “Pearl Harbor” was launched in 2001, it was the first time that the [majority] of the American public had heard their name, and we knew about their historical links to the area,” Breivik said. “There were a lot of ties before then.” For example, he said, a minor league baseball team that was based in Columbia -- the Capitol City Bombers – was named in honor of the Doolittle Raiders.

Jack Holt, “Remembering Midway” moderator and senior strategist for Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate, said people today can learn a lot from those who came before them.

“I am a fan of history and believe the author George Santayana said it best: ‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,’” Holt said.

Featured in the Battle of Coral Sea series of “Remembering Midway,” Vice Adm. Paul Stroop, a flag secretary responsible for updating the war diary during the battle, will discuss the events that led to the sinking of USS Lexington.

“There are valuable lessons learned from the experiences of the naval leaders before us,” said retired Marine Corps Maj. Thomas L. Wilkerson, the U.S. Naval Institute’s CEO.

The third and fourth installments of “Remembering Midway” will tell the story of the Battle of Midway through the voices of Navy Rear Adm. Roy Benson, who provides his experience aboard USS Nautilus and its participation in the battle; Navy Rear Adm. Ernest Eller, who met with Navy Ens. George Gay, sole survivor of the Hornet torpedo squadron, after the Battle of Midway in June 1942, and many others.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.) 

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Related Sites:
“Remembering Midway” on Pentagon Web Radio
Pentagon Channel Podcast Web Page
U.S. Naval Institute


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