And Then There Were Three

Retired Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, one of the last surviving Doolittle Raiders, died at his home in Washington State on Wednesday at the age of 94. Saylor enlisted in the Army Air Corps on Dec. 7, 1939, and served as an enlisted airman throughout World War II. On April 18, 1942, he joined 79 other volunteers led by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle on a top-secret mission to bomb targets in Japan. Saylor was an engineer in the 15th of 16 B-25 Army bombers, which launched from the USS Hornet aircraft carrier, something never tried before. Though largely symbolic, the mission was a huge success in boosting American morale and wounding that of the Japanese, in that it proved Japan’s home islands were not beyond the reach of US sea- and airpower. Saylor received his commission as an aircraft maintenance officer in October 1947. He served at bases in Iowa, Washington, Labrador, and England, according to his official biography. In November 2013, Saylor— along with retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, co-pilot of crew 1, and retired SSgt. David Thatcher, engineer-gunner of crew No. 7—attended a final toast to the deceased Doolittle Raiders. The only other survivor, retired Lt. Col. Bob Hite, could not attend due to poor health. Saylor was a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade, according to a Doolittle Tokyo Raiders release. (See also Mission Accomplished from the February 2014 issue of Air Force Magazine.)