VANDALIA — A piece of history was on the ramp, and in the air, at the Dayton International Airport on Friday, serving a dual mission.
Larry Kelly and his B-25 Mitchell bomber were in Dayton to promote remembering history and our Disabled American Veterans.
The North American B-25 is one of the most famous airplane designs of World War II. It is most commonly remembered for the part it played in the bombing of Tokyo, Japan in April of 1942 when Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and 79 other members of the United States Army Air Corps, in 16 aircraft, took off from the deck of the USS Hornet, a feat considered impossible by many, and dropped bombs on Japan. It was the United States first offensive action of World War II.
The raid did little damage but was a significant morale booster for the United States and our allies. Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honor for his part in planning and executing the attack.
Kelly and Panchito participated in several Doolittle Raider reunions, taking part in flyovers honoring the surviving Raiders. Most recently, Panchito delivered to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Congressional Gold Medal that was awarded by Congress to the Doolittle Raiders. Kelly and his crew hand-delivered the medal to surviving Raiders.
Of the 80 men who took part in the Doolittle Raid in 1942, eight were captured by the Japanese. Three were executed by firing squad and one died in prison. Four survived 40 months in Japanese prison camps.
Several of those who made it home suffered injuries and wounds.
Those U.S. servicemen, and women, who suffer from the effects of war-time injures, can turn to the Disabled American Veterans, a 1.2 million member, non-profit organization, founded in 1920 to represent America’s veterans and their families.
Supporting members of the DAV is near and dear to Kelly and his crew.
At a ceremony on Friday, Kelly awarded Vince Dec, a DAV member and volunteer, with a “Strength & Courage … Then & Now” award.
Dec is a retired United States Marine, a Vietnam veteran who fell ill due to handling Agent Orange as an 18 year in Vietnam.
Dec has volunteered more than 7000 hours in the past six years.
“I love what I am able to do by being a DAV member,” said Dec, “I have such respect for the DAV, for the people I work with and those I am able to meet because of my position. I am a proud DAV life member since 1978.