A Lucky Day
Lieutenant Commander Richard J. Nowatzki, U.S. Navy (Retired)
I was a witness to some of the events that James M. Scott’s April article, “The Navy Targets Tokyo” described. A seaman first class in the deck force on board the USS Hornet (CV-8), I stood on the flight deck on 18 April 1942 and watched as Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle’s B-25 was successfully launched to start his historic raid.
Doolittle circled the Hornet, waggled his plane’s wings, and headed straight for Japan. We had launched him earlier than initially planned. Gas was to be the limiting factor for all of the planes, which did not wait to form; all immediately headed west. The seas were rough, and the Hornet pitched fore and aft throughout the entire operation. The sailor removing the tie-downs from the last plane got too close to the left propeller and lost an arm.