The trip almost didn't happen for the Yellow Rose B-25 hangared in San Marcos. Members of our CAF Squadron donated $750 per seat to cover expenses and we traveled with seven people on the airplane. During start on Wednesday, April 17th, a backfire in the right engine detached a carburetor induction tube and it was impossible to get the engine running. We were determinedly going off in the wrong direction on trouble shooting when someone saw it lying in the bottom cowl flaps. We had promised to go to Greenville, SC because The Rose was stationed there when she was on active duty. We arrived about 2 hours late and were greeted by about 70 people who wanted to see the aircraft. Amongst them were "home schoolers" who had researched the Rose and had to write reports-very impressive! They served us a great dinner and we took off in time to make Columbia Owens Downtown just before dark.
From there on it was a whirlwind of activity. On Thursday we participated in the flyby over the downtown parade. We were in the second element of an 11 ship formation of B-25s which also flew over Bomb Island in the middle of a lake North of Columbia. The island was used as a practice target for the raid. All takeoffs were at 30 second intervals using a flagman at the end of the runway-similar to the procedure used in the actual raid from the Hornet. As B-25 after B-25 roared off the 5,000 foot runway at Owens Downtown airport, the sites and sounds were spectacular and greatly appreciated by the large majority of South Carolinians who are B-25 fans. That evening, was the Raiders banquet at the Adams Mark Hotel. There was an overflow crowd that filled several ballrooms that were connected by video for the ceremonies in the main ballroom. B/Gen. Charles Duke Retired USAF and astronaut was the guest speaker. The Raiders were mobbed, so much so that as the reunion wore on, the sponsors were pleading with the crowd to give the Raiders some space.
Friday was ramp day and the crowds at Owens were large. We flew in a 9 ship B-25 formation that day over Shaw and downtown. The enthusiasm of the ramp visitors was infectious and we returned their enthusiasm with all 9 airplanes doing their runup on the ramp facing the crowd prior to taxi. Throughout the weekend, we also gave rides to sponsors and volunteers that made the event possible. We also flew a representative of the Doolittle museum who carried one of Jimmy's scarves on the flight.
That night was the musical "Road to Victory "at a playhouse downtown. It was very good at depicting the stages of WWII through the music that was popular at the time being sung and played by professional and local talent. At one point, the band played the service songs of all the different branches of the military while the veterans of those branches stood while their song was being played. Lee Greenwood sang two songs in the musical: The "Pledge of Allegiance" at the beginning and "God Bless the USA" at the end. Is there anyone who doesn't have chills when he sings that song?