‘Doolittle Raiders’ honored at Willamette National

As Patriot’s Day approaches, discover why the message, delivered at this outer East Portland national cemetery, has continuing relevance …

With photos of the men who served with Commander James H. Doolittle in the foreground, a remembrance ceremony began in the Lents neighborhood, at Willamette National Cemetery.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

With 2017 marking the 75th Anniversary of the “Doolittle Raid” in World War II, ceremonies were held during the month of August honoring the “Greatest Generation”, offering the opportunity for Americans to be grateful for and to remember the incredible contributions and sacrifices of those who served during “the great war”.

A nonprofit organization called Oregon Spirit of ’45 organized a ceremony held on the morning of August 13 at Willamette National Cemetery.

Inspired by the messages presented, some in the audience hold American flags.

“We’re here to keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive, and to salute 16.1 million Americans who served and saved our country, and the 400,000+ who made the ultimate sacrifice, from 1941 thorugh1945,” reflected Oregon Spirit of ’45 President Barbara Jensen.

Honored guest Jonna Doolittle Hoppes speaks of the World War II missions of her grandfather, Commander James H. Doolittle.

The guest of honor and featured speaker was Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, granddaughter of Commander James Doolittle, who shared stories about the WWII “daredevil pilot”, combat leader, and military strategist.

The “Doolittle Raiders” – most famous for flying sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers over Tokyo on April 18, 1942 – made the first American attack on the Japanese mainland, just four months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

“World War II was a time when many Americans stood tall and made us proud,” said Doolittle Hoppes as she began her address.

Veterans of Foreign Wars members listen to the speakers, and stand for the 21-gun salute honoring their fallen comrades.

“My grandfather thought that mission was a failure, because so many of the airmen didn’t make it back,” Doolittle Hoppes remarked. “Five of the lost men were from the State of Oregon.”

“When Grandfather learned he was getting the Medal of Honor, he said, ‘After that, I’d be lucky to get paid vacation!’” recalled Doolittle Hoppes.

“Any time we can pull Americans together to remember the sacrifices made in war is important, and to remember why we are free, and what the cost was,” Doolittle Hoppes told the crowd.

Her passion is making sure armed forces members’ stories are recorded, says Jonna Doolittle Hoppes.

After the ceremony, Doolittle Hoppes spoke with East Portland News. “For me, my passion is to get as many stories [of those who served in World War II] recorded, because every single story is of equal importance,” she said.

“I was invited by Oregon Spirit of ’45 to speak here today,” said Doolittle Hoppes of her reason for coming to Portland. “I lecture a lot of places around the country, and the point of my lecture is that I consider myself a nag – to make sure that we are recording these stories, whether from World War II, or of coming home from the Middle East today.”

To learn more about Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, see her website: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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