The last surviving pilot of the famed 1942 Doolittle Raid was
laid to rest
the famed 1942 Doolittle Raid.
WASHINGTON (May16, 2011)— The last surviving pilot of the famed 1942 Doolittle Raid, retired Air Force Col. William M. Bower, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery today. A B-25 bomber flew overhead during funeral honors for the World War II veteran.
The daring raid on April 18, 1942 involved sixteen B-25s in a retaliatory strike against Japan just months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. 1st Lt. Bower commanded plane number 12. All sixteen aircraft launched from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet were lost in the attack.
From an altitude of 1,100 feet 1st Lt. Bower and his five-member crew bombed an oil refinery, tank farm and warehouse inYokohama. When landing in China appeared impossible, they parachuted safely from their B-25 during the night. It was his first jump from an airplane.
1st Lt. Bower and his crew were taken in by Chinese villagers until rescue by the Americans and eventually making their way to Chunking. One month later his mother, Kathryn Bower, was informed by Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle that Bower had survived the attack.
Col. Bower was born February 13, 1917 in Ravenna, Ohio and graduated from Ravenna High School in 1934. He attended Hiram College and Kent State University in Ohio before receiving a commission as a second lieutenant and rating as a pilot in 1940. Following the raid, he served in England with 8th Air Force bomber units from September 1942 until September 1945. He later graduated from the Air Command and Staff College. Following WWII he served in California, Washington, D.C., Colorado, Newfoundland and Georgia before retiring in 1966.
His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Commendation Ribbon and the Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medals.
His wife, Lorraine J. Bower was inurned with him.