The Present and Future honor the Past

  • Published
  • By Capt. Maria Downing
  • 39th Information Operations Squadron
Nineteen 39th Information Operations Squadron personnel attended the dedication ceremony for the Doolittle Raider exhibit at the Northwest Florida State College in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., April 17.

The event served as part of a week-long festivity in the Fort Walton Beach area to celebrate the 71st and final reunion of some of the nation's greatest heroes.

Since their air raid over Japan April 18, 1942, the surviving 62 Raiders would meet once a year at a chosen location in the U.S. to reunite. This year only four Raiders are still alive, with three able to attend the week-long festivity.

The Doolittle Raid was of utmost importance in shaping the outcome of the war in the Pacific during World War II. The operation was the first air raid by the U.S. to strike the Japanese homeland. By demonstrating Japan was vulnerable to American air attack, it provided a vital morale boost to U.S. troops and population and an opportunity for U.S. retaliation after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle, architect of the raid, would later recount in his autobiography that the raid had two psychological intents, the first was to cause the Japanese to begin doubting their leadership and the second was to bolster American morale, both of which succeeded: "The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable. An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders. There was a second, and equally important, psychological reason for this attack ... Americans badly needed a morale boost."

Headed by Lt. Col. J. Kiley Weigle, commander of 39th IOS, 16 squadron personnel rendered salutes to the three Raiders during their entrance and exit at the exhibit dedication ceremony, symbolizing that the heroism and selflessness the Raiders demonstrated will forever be remembered and will live on through the present and future generations of Airmen.

"Remembering what these Raiders have done was really moving to me," said Staff Sgt. Latisha Taylor, one of the 39th IOS personnel who participated in the ceremony. "I was honored to see the men we follow."

Currently, the 39th IOS's mission is to train a new wave of Airmen to affect the nature of war by influencing the minds of the enemy, embodying the spirit of the Doolittle Raid.

The 39th IOS provides advanced Information Operations and Cyber Training for the U.S. Air Force and is the formal training unit in these fields. The focus of the squadron is to prepare Airmen to win the type of warfare our nation currently faces.