80 years ago today, Jimmy Dolittle’s Raiders depart San Francisco, destination, Japan, for a joint USAAF/USN mission of payback for Pearl Harbor.

On 1 April 1942, the 16 modified bombers, their five-man crews, and Army maintenance personnel, totaling 71 officers and 130 enlisted men, were loaded onto the USS Hornet at Naval Air Station Alameda in California. Each aircraft carried four specially constructed 500-pound bombs. Three of these were high-explosive munitions and one was a bundle of incendiaries. The incendiaries were long tubes, wrapped together to be carried in the bomb bay, but designed to separate and scatter over a wide area after release. Five bombs had Japanese “friendship” medals wired to them—medals awarded by the Japanese government to U.S. servicemen before the war.

The bombers’ armament was reduced to increase range by decreasing weight. Each bomber launched with two .50-caliber  machine guns in an upper turret and a .30-caliber machine gun in the nose. The aircraft were clustered closely and tied down on Hornet’s flight deck in the order of launch.

Hornet and Task Force 18 got underway from San Francisco Bay at 08:48 on 2 April with the 16 bombers in clear view.

Many in the TF did not know the five Radio Intelligence intercept operators from Wahiawa, Hawaii listed below were also embarked on this secret mission and that they would play a huge role in just a couple weeks!

LT Slonim, Japanese Language Officer
RM1C Howard Cain, Intercept Operator
RM1C Willie Wesper, Intercept Operator
RMC1 Roy Lehman, Intercept Operator
RMC2 Ray Rundle, Intercept Operator