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Posted at 1:26 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Bill Bower dies; Doolittle Raider was last surviving pilot

By T. Rees Shapiro

Bill Bower, the last surviving bomber pilot of the audacious Doolittle Raid, a morale-boosting strike against the Japanese months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, died Jan. 10 at his home in Boulder, Colo. He was 93.

As a 25-year-old first lieutenant, Col. Bower commanded one of the 16 Army Air Forces' B-25s in the top-secret mission under the direction of then-Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle.

Col. Bower and the 79 other men who participated in the bombing run came to be known as the Doolittle Raiders.

On April 18, 1942, the Doolittle Raiders carried out a daring bombing run over Tokyo and the surrounding area.

Although the bombing run had resulted in minimal damage, the Doolittle Raiders returned to the United States as heroes, hailed as having delivered a symbolic blow to the Axis powers early in the war.

For his integral role, Col. Bower received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

When Doolittle died in 1993, Col. Bower was picked to play "Taps" at the funeral in Arlington.

Col. Bower managed to play a few notes before he was overcome with emotion and passed the bugle on to Doolittle's great-grandson.

The Doolittle Raiders have an annual reunion which honors the surviving members and salutes those who died. With Col. Bower's death, only five Doolittle Raiders are still alive.

The ceremony is scheduled to continue until only two Doolittle Raiders remain. During that final meeting, the last two Doolittle Raiders will uncork a bottle of cognac from 1896, the year of Doolittle's birth.

Please leave your thoughts or memories of Col. Bower below. You can read the full obituary here.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | January 14, 2011; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  bill bower, doolittle raiders, pearl harbor  
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Comments

They staged the raids from the decks of the U.S.S. Hornet. Brave men - heroes - all.

Posted by: mooncusser | January 18, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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