Trying to Repeat Feats of the Doolittle Raiders

The story on the Doolittle raiders (Metro, April 18) got me wondering what would have happened if today's United States had tried to organize and carry out that raid on Tokyo. I think I have it figured out:

First, when the call went out for 100 volunteers, no one showed up. Eventually, as the bonus offered was progressively raised, 20 crews were gotten together. This bonus had to be doubled when all 100 crew members quit after seeing the length of the carrier deck.

The mission was later reduced from 20 to six aircraft. Of the 12 planes that came new from the factory, half worked, half didn't. Of the eight borrowed from the Air Force, none worked. This equipment shortage resolved itself though, as the equivalent of 14 crews were lost to a drug rehabilitation program.

The launching of the aircraft on D-Day was delayed several hours by female members of the crew picketing to protest sexism implicit in the pictures painted on the noses of the planes. Otherwise, the takeoff was uneventful unless you count the two aircraft that failed to appear because they had been stolen the night before and three others that immediately crashed into the sea because someone had put gasoline where the oil is supposed to go.

The remaining aircraft proceeded on its way. Unfortunately, just before reaching its target it was met by the massed air defenses of Japan and blasted out of the sky. Investigation revealed that someone in the Marines, the State Department or the CIA had learned of the mission and passed the information to the Japanese in exchange for a 19-inch television and two ladies of the evening.

The President the next day denied reports that the United States had tried to bomb Tokyo or that anything had gone wrong with the mission. Other members of the Administration blamed the debacle on defense budget cuts and the American educational system. Educators blamed it on parents. Religious leaders blamed everybody but themselves. All agreed: Nothing seemed to go right anymore.


Newbury Park

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