La Grande represented at Doolittle Raiders event

Doolittle Raiders

PENDLETON — Seventy-five years have passed since La Grande’s Leonard Morse heard of the attack on Tokyo by Doolittle’s Raiders. Still, the passage of time has not dimmed his memory of the excitement of the moment.

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 2.51.12 PM“We heard about it on the radio. It was quite a sensation,” said Morse, then a senior at La Center High School in La Center, Washington.

The April 18, 1942, attack, led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle of the U.S. Army Air Force, provided Americans with an enormous morale boost. It was the first air strike to hit Japan during World War II. The attack was made by 16 B-25 bombers launched from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean.

Many of the men who participated in the attack trained for the mission at a military air base in Pendleton as members of the Army Air Corps’ 17th Bombardment Squadron. This is a source of community pride and why a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the air raid, the Doolittle Raiders Gala, is set for April 29 in Pendleton. Morse, a chaplain ordained by the First Christian Church, will give the invocation for the event’s dinner. Morse has been a chaplain for the First Christian Church since May 18, 1980, when he was ordained in Newberg. He is also a WWII veteran who was part of the Army Air Corps 14th Air Force, known as the Flying Tigers. Morse was based in China for a portion of the war.

La Grande will also be represented at the Doolittle Raiders Gala by Lynette Williamson. She will be taking people back in time by portraying a 1940s era model who will be posing with people at a classic car show and outside a B-25 bomber that flew during WWII.

“’I’m very excited. I just love the 1940s,” Williamson said.

The Doolittle Raiders Gala will be at the Pendleton Army Air Field. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors will be able to attend the classic car show, tour the B-25 bomber and see living history reenactments.

There will be a military presentation at 4 p.m. that will include the laying of a wreath honoring the men who participated in the attack on Tokyo and a flyover of a F-15 jet.

This will be followed by a social hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., dinner from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and dancing at 8 p.m. An Army band will play at the dance. All events at the Doolittle Raiders Gala are free, but there is a charge for dinner. To purchase tickets, go to or call 1-800-838-3006 or 541-910-4394.

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