Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What Happened to the Doolittle Raiders? The Story Continues

by Cindy K. Stewart

Artist's Rendition of the Doolittle Raiders Preparing to Launch
Courtesy of the Official Site of the Doolittle Raiders - Used by Permission

For the past several months, I’ve shared stories about the experiences of the Doolittle Raiders who risked their lives launching land-based bombers off an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during WWII. They successfully bombed Japan and fled to China, knowing full well they might not have enough fuel to land safely outside of Japanese controlled territory. Here are the links to past Doolittle stories if you missed them and want to catch up: November 2017, December 2017, January 2018, February 2018, March 2018, April 2018. In addition, fellow blogger Linda Thompson has written a wonderful post about the extraordinary experiences of the Plane 16 crew. 

Taking Off in Stormy Weather - Courtesy of the Official Doolittle Raiders Website

Plane 3, the Whiskey Pete, successfully launched from the deck of the USS Hornet during a squall but arrived over Tokyo on a clear, sunny day. The Whiskey Pete encountered strong anti-aircraft fire, forcing pilot Bob Gray and co-pilot Shorty Manch to pull up to 1450 feet. They passed over the Temple of Heaven, the residence of the Japanese emperor, but Commander Jimmy Doolittle had expressly forbidden the Raiders from attacking the emperor's palace. Instead, bombardier Aden Jones dropped Pete’s bombs on the assigned steel, gas, and chemical plants nearby. Dozens of fighters and enemy warships fired at Pete, but she and her crew made a successfully getaway and headed to China.

Crew of Plane 3 - Ozuk, Gray, Aden Jones, Manch, Faktor
Courtesy of National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The Whiskey Pete reached the coast of China as night was approaching and continued inland for one hour. Expecting their fuel to run out at any moment, the airmen dropped chute flares for illumination but didn't detect any flat land. With no other choice available, the crew bailed out into the unknown. The navigator and bombardier left through the forward hatch. Co-pilot Shorty Manch used his flashlight to check if gunner Leland Faktor had departed through the rear hatch. When he was satisfied, Shorty jumped. Unfortunately, his 24-foot parachute was too small for his weight, so when he pulled the D-ring, the impact of the chute’s opening jerked his bowie knife, ax, canteen, and all of his private arsenal away, except for a gun in his holster. The Baby Ruth bars he’d stuffed in his jacket flew off, leaving behind their empty wrappers.

Navigator Chuck Ozuk’s parachute tangled with a pine tree, causing Ozuk to be thrown against a ledge of rock, which cut his left leg wide open. He was unable to cut himself out of the lines or harness in the darkness. When daylight came, Ozuk gazed upon his surroundings in awe. All alone, high up in the mountains, with a beautiful sun above him, he almost thought he'd arrived in heaven. He freed himself, made a crutch from a tree limb, and headed west for two days without help.

Shorty Manch
Shorty Manch landed so hard that he rolled seventy feed down the side of a steep hill. He “decided it was too dark and too steep to go wandering around, so he cleared off a long patch of ground with his boots, wrapped himself in the silk chute, and went to sleep.” In the morning he climbed a hill and spotted a village. His 6'7" height and his foreign appearance terrified the villagers, and they fled into a bamboo forest. Manch stumbled upon a clear creek and waded in up to his waste. Soon several Chinamen came out of the bushes and took him to another village. Manch was so tired that he had to stop and rest often. One of the Chinese insisted on carrying him on his back “and went up and down those hills for two miles like a billygoat.”

British Blenheim
Courtesy of Wikipedia
War Flag of the Imperial Japanese
Navy - Courtesy of Wikipedia
Manch's Chinese rescuer communicated with him by drawing with a stick in the dirt. First the Chinaman drew a Japanese flag, and Manch responded by holding his nose and waving the picture away. Then the man pulled out a clipping of an old British Blenheim plane and pointed at the insignia. Shorty shook his head again. Next, the Chinaman pulled out a four-year-old copy of the Saturday Evening Post with a picture of President Roosevelt on the cover. Shorty grinned and pointed to Roosevelt and then to himself. Everybody present laughed and shook hands with the American. Manch slept in the man’s home that night and was escorted to another village the next morning. He spotted pieces of wreckage from Whiskey Pete along the way. “In the village, they showed him the American clothes they had found, some pieces of equipment from the navigator’s deck, and the body of twenty-one-year-old Leland Faktor.”

Faktor was the first Raider to die, but the cause of death was unclear because of conflicting reports from the eyewitnesses. Doolittle concluded that Faktor "landed on extremely rough terrain and was killed in the secondary fall.”

The Chinese whisked the remaining four members of the Whiskey Pete crew to safety, and the crewmen were reunited. A short time later, Pilot Bob Gray was assigned to fly transports over the Himalayas between India and China. Two days after he was promoted to the rank of captain, Gray's plane crashed, and he and two other former Raiders were killed. 
Courtesy of the Official Doolittle
Raiders Website

Co-pilot Shorty Manch was also assigned to the China-India-Burma Theater but was transferred Stateside in 1943. He served in the Korean War and later trained young officers to fly jets at Nellis AFB in Nevada. On one of his training missions, his T-33 burst into flames over Las Vegas. Manch ordered his students to bailout, while he guided the plane away from a residential neighborhood and an elementary school. By the time Manch ejected, his parachute couldn't fully open, and he died when he hit the ground. He was 39. 

Bombardier Aden Jones also served in the China-India-Burma Theater until 1943 and then was transferred Stateside. After the war, he served briefly in Japan and was discharged in 1948. He died at the age of 62. Navigator Chuck Ozuk was sent to North Africa in 1942 and was relieved from active duty in 1945. He died in 2010 at the age of 94. 



The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid—America’s First World War II Victory by Craig Nelson (Viking, 2002)




Cindy Stewart, a high school social studies and language arts teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical fiction author, semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2017 Genesis contest, and won ACFW’s 2014 First Impressions contest in the historical category. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of thirty-six years and near her married daughter, son-in-law, and three adorable grandchildren. She’s currently writing a fiction series set in WWII Europe.


  1. Wow! Such brave men. Such stories! Thank you.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Connie. Glad you're enjoying the Doolittle stories!

  2. Thank you for sharing this great information. I have really enjoyed reading about the Doolittle Raiders.

    1. Hi, Melanie. You're so kind to read my posts and comment each month. Linda Thompson and I both have more Raiders stories to share in the coming months.

  3. Replies
    1. Hi, Stephanie. After the Raiders were suddenly ordered to man their planes on the USS Hornet, the standby flyers offered money to take the place of any man who wanted to stay behind, but no one backed out.

  4. WOWZERS! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Weren't the Raiders amazing? Thank you for your comment, Caryl.

  5. Wonderful post, Cindy! Of course, I might be a little biased. ;-) ;-) Thank you so much for the mention!

    1. Hi, Linda. I'm glad we both can share in spreading the word about the Raiders!

  6. Amazing history you've shared about the Doolittle Raiders and men involved. Thank you so much. Blessings.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Marilyn. You're appreciated!

  7. Replies
    1. Hi, Susan! I love to discover amazing stories from WWII. Many more to come.