Of the eighty men who became Doolittle Raiders, only four remain. They're at Eglin air force base this week for a reunion marking their daring April 18th, 1942 bombing raid on Japan. After seventy-one years, the men say they're shocked by the number of people who see their mission as a significant event in American history.
"At the time of the raid the war was on and it was just a mission we went on. We were lucky enough to survive it. It didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time" said Doolittle Raider Ed Saylor.
"Back in the early forties, this is where the Doolittle Raiders trained after we were bombed in Pearl Harbor. Our president got together with the war department and had Jimmy Doolittle put together eighty of his aviators and they trained here initially for that mission" said U.S. Air Force Armament Museum Director George Jones.
Seventy-one years later, many people are still grateful for what the raiders did.
"These are the greatest most humble aviators in our lifetime and there's four remaining" said Jones.
"Not only is it rich in history, the Doolittle Raiders did something that has cemented them in American history" said Katherine LeBlanc.
The Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring several of the reunion events. Wednesday the raiders were on-hand for a hangar dedication in honor of fellow raider, Colonel Ed Saylor. Those who've gotten the chance to meet the raiders describe them with one word...humility.
"Our great nation needs to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that these great warriors did over seventy-one years ago" said Jones.
The Doolittle Raiders reunion will continue with a parade in the Fort Walton Beach area on Saturday.