Lt. Col. Horace “Sally” Crouch of Columbia — a member of World War II’s Doolittle Raiders, who bombed Tokyo and other Japanese cities in retaliation for the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor — died Wednesday ( December 21, 2005). He was 87.
The Raiders flew 16 heavy Army B-25 bombers from the pitching deck of a Navy aircraft carrier — a first in military history — and bombed Japanese military targets before crashing or bailing out over China. Many considered the raid a suicide mission.
While only a modest military success, the raid came just four months after Pearl Harbor and was a tonic to the nation when U.S. morale was at its lowest.
Three airmen were killed in the raid, and eight were captured. Three of the captives were executed.
For his valor, Crouch was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster.
Crouch enlisted in the Army Air Corps just months before World War II and married his finance, Mary Epting, just days before Pearl Harbor.
Soon after, Crouch and the other Raiders volunteered for secret, dangerous duty while stationed at the Columbia Air Base, now the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
It wasn’t until the fliers were aboard the carrier USS Hornet in the Pacific that their target was revealed. The announcement was met with elation.
“Every American was indignant(about Pearl Harbor),” Crouch said during an interview several years ago. “We had an opportunity to pay them back.”
Crouch, one of five men in Plane No. 10, would fly more than 2,000 miles that day. No. 10 would face more enemy aircraft, endure some of the heaviest anti-aircraft fire and sustain the most damage of any bomber on the raid.
The crew was credited with shooting down two Japanese Zero fighters and successfully bombing their target before bailing out near Chuchow, where they were rescued by Chinese guerrillas.
Crouch, who served as navigator, bombardier and nose gunner, remained in China for about a year after the raid, flying additional B-25 missions in the Pacific Theater.
He retired from the military in 1962 and taught in Columbia schools for about 25 years
Crouch was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Epting Crouch.
Mary Epting Crouch