Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Doolittle Raider and Workshop Friend Passes

Rising Into the Storm
Maj. Thomas C. Griffin, navigator on a B-25 bomber, the Whirling Dervish, in the daring air raid on Japan led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle in 1942, four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died in Fort Thomas, Ky., on Feb. 26. He was 96 and lived in Cincinnati.
Griffin at the time of the Raid
 He died in a veterans hospital, said Tom Casey, a friend and the manager of the Doolittle Raiders, as the airmen who flew on the raid came to be known. The raid, the first American attack on Japanese soil, followed a string of Japanese victories in the Pacific that had demoralized the American public.

“The Japanese had attacked us, and we were mad,” Major Griffin said. “We wanted to hit ’em back.” The 80 men who volunteered for the raid were told only that they would be involved in a terribly dangerous mission.

They were to fly 16 B-25s from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet — the first time the land-based bombers had been launched on a raid at sea — to strike military and industrial targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, Nagoya and Osaka. But a last-minute change in plans, resulting from an encounter with a Japanese vessel, meant the planes would not have enough fuel to reach designated landing areas in China.
Engaging the Enemy

Despite heavy antiaircraft fire and pursuing planes, all 16 bombers made it out of Japanese airspace. After escaping Japan, the planes ran into a storm, further draining their fuel supplies as darkness fell over unfamiliar terrain. Most of the men, including Major Griffin (who was a lieutenant at the time), bailed out over China.

Major Griffin escaped Japanese capture and later participated in more bombing runs before he was shot down in 1943. He was held in a German prisoner of war camp until 1945.
Doolittle Raid Ebook

Thomas Carson Griffin was born on July 10, 1916, in Green Bay, Wis. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. He is survived by two sons, John and Gary; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Major Griffin was a cosigner on numerous William S. Phillips' fine art editions. His death leaves four surviving Doolittle Raiders.

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