Eye Witness Account (2)

Pilot 1st Lt. Ted Lawson; Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Dean Davenport; Navigator 2nd Lt. Charles McClure; Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert Clever; Engineer/Gunner Sgt. David Thatcher

Pilot 1st Lt. Ted Lawson; Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Dean Davenport; Navigator 2nd Lt. Charles McClure; Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert Clever; Engineer/Gunner Sgt. David Thatcher

 

Lt. Ted Lawson’s plane ran low on fuel approximately 6½ hours after the raid over Tokyo and the crew spotted the Chinese mainland.  It was raining hard and storming as the pilot’s story continues ____

 

“… I told the boys we were going down…  Davenport [co-pilot] was calling off the air speed, when for some reason, I’ll never understand, both engines coughed and lost their power.  In the next split second my hands punched forward and with one motion, I hit both throttles and both prop pitch controls.  I tried to pull back the stick to keep the nose up… we were about one-quarter mile off shore when we hit.

Doolittle's Raiders

“The two main landing wheels caught the top of a wave…  A curse of desperation was drowned out by the most terrifying noise I ever heard.  It was as if some great hand had reached down, seized the plane and crunched it in a closing fist.  I realized I was sitting in my pilot’s seat on the sand – underwater.  I was in about 10′-15′ of water and I remember thinking, ‘I’m dead.’  I thought of Ellen  [his wife], I wished I had left her some money.  I thought of money for my mother too in those disembodied seconds that seemed to have no beginning or end.

“I guess I had taken in more water, for suddenly I knew that the silence, the peace and the reverie were things to fight against.  I could not feel my arms, yet I knew I had reached down and unbuckled my seat strap.  I told myself my guts were loose.  I came up in the driving rain that beat down out of a blackened sky.  I couldn’t swim.  I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t think clearly, but I undid my chute.  The waves lifted me and dropped me.

“One wave washed me against a solid object.  I realized it was one of the wings, the engine had been ripped off leaving only a tangle of broken wires and cable. And with the recognition came a surge causing nausea and despair.  Only now did I connect my condition with the condition of the plane.  Another wave took me away from the wing and when it turned me around I saw behind me the two tail rudders of the ship sticking up out of the water like twin tombstones.”

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Lt. Lawson’s injuries required his leg to later be amputated; he passed away 19 January 1992.  Fifteen of Doolitle’s crews landed in Japanese-occupied China, but made it back safely with the aid of Chinese peasants.  One crew landed in the Soviet Union and they were immediately interned.  Eight airmen were captured by the Japanese and 4 were executed.  Col. Doolittle considered the mission a failure, but was awarded the Medal of Honor for the monumental psychological impact that was made.

Lt. Lawson’s own words were condensed from the article: “The Doolittle Raid, 1942, EyeWitness to History” which can be located at : eyewitness to history.com; photo of newspaper headline sent by Carl @I Know I Made You Smile.

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Military Humor – 

THE NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR IS IN!!!!!

THE NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR IS IN!!!!!

Murphy's Military Law 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – border

Robert Beckley – WA & AZ; US Navy, WWII, ETO, troop carrier

Ralph Fisher – Vancouver, CAN; RC Navy, Commander (Ret.), WWII

David Hoene – Waymansville, IN; US Air Force, VietnamBurrows_10

James Jewell – Flippin, AR; US Army, Vietnam

Janet Leighton – Omokoroa, NZ; 3GH NZ Army # 72063, WWII

Richard Ody – Schenectady, NY; US Army 18 yrs., combat engineer

James Queeny – Duxbury, MA; US Navy, WWII, ETO/PTO, PT-508

Whitney Thompson Jr. – Guilford, CT; US Navy, Korea

William Wilson – Pocatello, ID; US Air Force, Korea

Stephen Yanak – Aiken, SC; USMC & Army (Ret. 20 years), Vietnam (2 tours)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 8, 2015, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 90 Comments.

  1. He remembered the details so vividly – I wonder how often he relived this awful event. Fascinating post again.

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  2. This was bravery of the highest order. Great post, thank you.

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  3. It’s incredible that a crash such as this can be survived … physically OR emotionally. Oh my goodness. Thank you for sharing

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  4. So much owed by so many to those few who survived the trauma generated by the mistakes of those to whom we trusted so much. God bless them and keep them and their souls safe in this hands.

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  5. Great piece of history in that post gp, thanks for the link to the book.
    Interesting to know the complete comliment of the aircrafts crew, 15 ended up in Japan occupied China,1 crew in Soviet Union and 8 captured by the Japanese.
    How did one end up in the Soviet Union ?, war has many mysteries.
    Ian

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  6. What a story! Thanks for sharing – such brave men. Young, brave men. Truly the best generation.

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  7. A dramatic, but realistic, account of his experience. Powerful.

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  8. I will forever be grateful to all who serve to protect our great country. And yes, we ARE a great country.

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  9. most important, he taught me Love

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  10. when he came to visit, he would teach me about being human

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  11. Thank you schöner Beitrag ein gutes wee-kend an dich Gruß Gislinde

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  12. Wow, what a dramatic account! Thank you for sharing it.

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  13. The old adage “on a wing and a prayer” comes to mind. A mission story that takes your breath away.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So many brave men! Always enjoy hearing someone tell their own story.

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  15. Sounds like the story of Peggy’s dad in so many ways GP. The circumstances that the men faced are almost impossible to imagine. Thanks. I’ve now finished my three part series on the Hump pilots. –Curt

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  16. Still after 70 years the bravery of these men can’t be replicated. No such thing as PTS for them, they did what they had to do with pride and courage with no thought fo themselves.

    I don’t think we shall ever again see such courage as the warriors of WWII showed.

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    • Isn’t that the truth Beari!!! Of course every generation will produce its cowards, weak or maybe they’re just frightened teenagers, BUT The more I’ve researched over the years, the more impressed I’ve become. No – I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like them again.

      Like

  17. AZVHV.wordpress.com

    A personal account of something nearly fatal is difficult to read but riveting at the same time. He is so matter-of-fact in his telling of a near death experience, and in recalling his thoughts of leaving something behind for his family.

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  18. Whew, his description is so powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. one thing they did, to stay alive was, bury their guns

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  20. Utterly incomprehensible what they lived through. We just finished watching The Pacific again – I found it far more difficult to watch than the first time, and can’t get it out of my mind.

    Sometimes I think the hardest thing for these men was the “coming home and normal” after so much immersion in inhumane conditions.

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    • What they see can not be forgotten, some were able to cope, some sought out professional help and [just like today] others turned to drinking, etc. I’ve always felt the politicians should be thrown in the middle of it and see how long the war continues. Thank you for taking such an interest in these men.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I absolutely agree. It has baffled me many a time as to how someone who never served their country, on a battlefield, could be entitled to make decisions regarding the heath and welfare of our America’s greatest and bravest. After all, the liberties that American politicians flaunt before us as, “deserving” are an insult to all our Veterans in need of medical attention, whether physical or mental. John Walter Reed Hospital and the famous lists of those denied, or care mishandled or forgotten by unknown coutless Veterans hospitals anger me as much as it encourages me to write about what my father, brother and uncle (all career Navy) did for the love of living and believing in the United States of America.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree with every word, Texas. Only about 18% of Congress ever served at all; yet they control (along with our pres.) our military! Those are two separate and completely different worlds.

          Liked by 2 people

  21. makes me wonder . . they were there, at the same time ?

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  22. sounds like some of the times, my Grandfather used to talk about

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  23. Awesome post once again. The visuals are stunning.

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  24. gp, Hard to read this right in my stomach…tough stuff we all know happened “BUT READING THE DETAILS,” as I always say, is an education. Speaking of that, I’m reading “Churchill’s War Lab,” (2010) by Taylor Downing. –WWII like I never knew before…all in the details! Churchill was amazing! Phil

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    • I read his memoirs and sometimes I’m afraid Churchill’s memory doesn’t always match the facts, but don’t tell any of the British that or they’ll have my head! O_o
      Thanks for enduring the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Wow, thank you for sharing that account of his experience!

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  26. What a heart stopping account!

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  27. What can be said? Even his words cannot fully encircle the fear and desperation he endured.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Amazing story and had me at the edge of my seat. I have heard of the feeling of calmness when something catastrophic happens like that. Such courage. Hard to believe that Doolittle thought the mission was a failure. So glad you shared it, Everett!

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  29. That sends shivers through me. How does anyone prepare themselves for such an event?

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  30. Thank you for giving a voice to these brave men, whose stories would otherwise be unknown. I very much enjoy reading your posts.

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    • Thank you very much. Relating the Pacific War information on-line is basically sterile. You don’t have the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of the events these men went through. I do my best to break up the monotony of dates, names and place statistics with the eye witness accounts as much as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. A great story – keep up the good work on this site. Thanks.

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  32. What an incredible range of emotions from beginning to end. I was quite interested in his description of near/impending death, particularly the peaceful calm that surrounded his being and his final realization that he had to fight the calmness to survive. I once had a near death experience and remember that calm feeling as well. I never had the idea that I had to do something to survive, I wasn’t even thinking of surviving…I was too calm and at peace. I was just lucky and didn’t die. But his words about fighting the calmness struck a chord of truth in my being. I hope that I will remember that in the future…if I ever get into that situation again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never knew you came so close, Mrs P. I believe that the feeling of weightlessness and nearing death; the brain causes the euphoria to ease the process. Those little computers in our heads are capable of amazing things.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. “Col. Doolittle considered the mission a failure” and we are still talking about it now?? The film should be remade, especially with planes now easy to recreate on computers. Thanks a lot for a fascinating story!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I really enjoy these eyewitness accounts. I don’t think the raid was a failure. I think it was a message to the world of what was going to follow. We were going to do everything necessary to defeat the enemy.

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  35. fascinating account of the action. Thank you

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  36. It brings a gut tightening that almost make you sick. But, wow…….!

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  37. Thank you, Carol. These men deserve to be remembered.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Eye Witness Account (2) | Home Sweet Home WY

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