"We are destined to win. So the Japanese claimed, and so it appeared--From Pearl Harbor through the early months of 1942. Then, in April, came news that lifted the spirit of the entire nation: a group of U.S. planes had bombed Tokyo! We had hit the enemy's greatest city, the capital of the island empire! As a tactical strike, it had little impact on the military power of the Japanese, but for its effects on the psychology of America and her enemy in the Pacific, the Tokyo raid was a master stroke of offensive action" …. from page 172 of the story, "Doolittle Bombs Tokyo" by Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall, USAR(Ret.)in Reader's Digest Illustrated Story of World War II.
Sixteen B-25's took off from the carrier HORNET on April 18, 1942 for a surprise daylight raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities.
On that day, my B-24 crew was at Fort Myers, Florida. I attended combat school at Mess Hall #12 that morning from 0800 to 1130. We were issued oxygen masks. We attended a lecture on identification of Japanese aircraft, from 1300 to 1400. Later, we loaded 5 truckloads of shale at the beach(to be used for the floor of the mess hall).
News of the Tokyo raid lifted all of our spirits. Little did we know then of our close relationship to this battle plan.
We were undergoing intensive combat training. Rumors were flying. I was interviewed twice, at length: first by Capt. John Kane on 4/3 and then by an unidentified Captain on 4/8. There was no reason given for the interviews. Rumor had it we were to be involved in some sort of secret mission.
It was a well kept secret. My first reference to confirm this was a notation on 4/22/42, "HALPRO outfit personnel received typhus and cholera shots", and another on 4/23, "Six HALPRO planes are now based on the ramp at Fort Myers" (modified B-24D's).
My first flight with my permanent crew assignment was on Thurs. 4/23/42. Lt. Therman D. Brown was the pilot and Lt. William P. Dwyer was the copilot. The enlisted men were Van Gilder, Ramsdell and Wido. We were in the air from 0815 to 1145 ... dropped 10 bombs from 8000' at Avon Park Bombing Range.
This marked the beginning of a close relationship that would take us to South America, Africa and the Middle East, blazing new trails for heavy bombers, flying hundreds of hours and more than a hundred thousand miles together … as a team, with our very lives dependent upon each other's performance.
In the 10 months that followed, these hand picked crews of young Americans were pioneers in the field of heavy bombardment: crossing the South Atlantic non-stop to Africa, initiating high altitude formation bombing … with air and ground crews working long and hard together, under trying conditions, with limited supplies.
On May 1, 1942, the project was officially activated by orders of the Adjutant General as the HALVERSON DETACHMENT(three flights: A, B and C of 8, 8 and 7 planes---B24D's) … Col. Harry A. Halverson in Command.