Retired Air Force Col. Travis Hoover, one of the famous Doolittle Raiders who led the first U.S. retaliatory raid on Japan after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, died on Jan. 17. Cause of death was not released. He was 86.
Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s 79-member crew flew 16 Army Air Corps bombers off the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet on April 18, 1942. They brought the United States into World War II by flying to Japan and bombing industrial targets in Tokyo — without enough fuel to safely reach landing strips in China. The raid inflicted little damage, but roused American spirits and proved that Japan was vulnerable to U.S. bombers.
Hoover flew the second B-25 bomber behind Doolittle. When his plane ran out of fuel, he crash-landed the aircraft into a Japanese rice paddy. Hoover and his four crewmen survived the rough landing, and were met by Tung Sheng Liu, a Chinese aeronautical engineer who helped them evade Japanese troops and reach China. For his service in the historic raid, Hoover received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The New Mexico-native earned an associate of arts degree from Riverside City College before enlisting in the National Guard in 1938. Hoover joined the Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant after completing his pilot training. He later received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Berkley.
After the raid, Hoover remained in the military to fly B-24s, B-25s and P-38s in England, North Africa and Italy. He retired as commander of Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi in 1969.