Doolittle Raider Dies, Two Remain

Retired Lt. Col. Robert Hite, one of the last surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, died at his home in Nashville, Tenn., on March 29. He was 95. Hite was the co-pilot on plane 16, dubbed “Bat Out of Hell,” during the top secret April 18, 1942 mission to bomb Japan. The raid, led by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, had little impact on the Japanese military, but significantly boosted American morale during World War II. Hite was captured by the Japanese in China following the raid and was imprisoned in Shanghai for 40 months, during which time he was held in solitary confinement, tortured, and starved until he was liberated on Aug. 20, 1945. He remained on Active Duty until Sept. 30, 1951. During the Korean War, Hite once again returned to Active Duty and served overseas before he was released from duty for the second time in November 1955. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Chinese Breast Order of Pao Ting. Hite, along with the other 79 Doolittle Raiders, also were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, which will be presented on April 15. Only two Doolittle Raiders are still living. They are: retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, co-pilot of crew 1, and retired SSgt. David Thatcher, engineer-gunner of crew No. 7. (See also And Then There Were Three and Doolittle Raiders’ Final Toast)