Colonel William M. Bower
Inducted - 1990
Col. William Marsh "Bill" Bower 93, the last surviving pilot from the famous "Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders" who bombed Japan in 1942, died Monday, January 10, 2011 at his home in south Boulder, surrounded by friends and family.
Hailed as a hero for his role in the United States' first air attack on Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Bill always said that the true heroes are the men who stick by and raise their families.
Bill was born February 13, 1917 at White Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, Ohio, the son of Harold Friend Bower and Kathryn Marsh Bower. He attended Chestnut Street School and Highland Avenue School and graduated from Ravenna High School in 1934. He attended Hiram College and Kent State University from 1934 to 1936.
He married Lorraine Amman Bower in the lobby of the Lady Lafayette Hotel, Walterboro, S. C. on August 18, 1942. They raised four children: Bill, Jim, Mary and Mindy. Lorraine died in 2004.
Bill served with the Ohio National Guard 107th Cavalry from 1934 to 1938 and graduated from the Army Air Force Flying School in 1940. He received a commission as a 2nd lieutenant, USAF on October 4, 1940, with a rating of Army Aviator. He joind the 37th bombardment Squadron at Lowry Field in Denver, Colorado in October 1940 and joined the 17th Bombardment Group in June 1941 at McChord Field in Washington.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Bill volunteered and was chosen for the mission planned and led by Lt. James "Jimmy" Doolittle to bomb military targets on the home islands of Japan, an effort to demonstrate that the Japanese Empire was not invulnerable to attack.
On April 18, 1942, 16 B25B Mitchell medium bombers took off from the dcks of the U.S.S. Hornet in the western Pacific Ocean. Because landing planes of that size on the Hornet was impossible, the pilots continued toward China after bombing their targets. All but one aircraft, which landed in the Soviet Union, crashed in China or were ditched at sea. Of the 80 crew members, 11 were either captured or killed; the rest returned to the United States.
After his return, Bill assumed command of the 428th Bombardment Squadron and joined Allied Invasion forces in Africa. He remained there and in Italy until September 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross or his role in the raids.
After the war, Bill worked as a planner and accident investigator for the U. S. Air Force and served in the Arctic as commander of a USAF transport organization. He also served as commander at Dobbins Air Forse Base, Marietta, Georgia.
In 1966, he retired and moved with his family to Boulder, where he built and lived in the same house on Dennison Lane. He led an active retirement life, participating in many volunteer, charity and philanthropic groups. Ravenna will always remember the part their own Colonel Bower played in World History.