This is a syndicated post from Catholic Journal. [Read the original article...]
The mission, known as the Doolittle (Tokyo) Raid, was carried out on April 18, 1942. It was to be the first air raid by the United States intended to strike the Japanese home islands.
In his autobiography, Doolittle recounts:
The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable. An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders. There was a second, and equally important, psychological reason for this attack … Americans badly needed a morale boost.
From the onset, the mission was a difficult one. The strategy was to launch 16 B-25 bombers off of the Navy aircraft carrier Hornet with the intention of bombing five Japanese cities, including Tokyo. The problem? At the time, no one believed it possible that a heavily equipped bomber could be launched from the short deck of a Navy carrier. Except Doolittle.
And the rest is history. With the B-25′s having successfully launched from the Hornet, each arrived at their intended targets by mid-day. Having released their payload and with little fuel remaining, 15 of the bombers headed for China, while 1 departed for Russia. For those crewmen headed to China, two died swimming to shore; one was killed on the bailout; and four men were seriously injured while attempting to ditch their aircraft. Additionally, of the eight men captured by the Japanese, three were executed by a firing squad and one died of starvation. The remaining four survived the ensuing years of the war but suffered torture, starvation, and solitary confinement. The crew in the aircraft bound for Russia landed safely and ultimately escaped into Iran.
For the execution of their extraordinary mission, each of the “Raiders” received the distinguished Flying Cross. In addition, Doolittle was promoted to Brigadier General (bypassing the rank of Colonel) and received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
For most of us, the thought that we would be involved in an extraordinary mission seems farfetched at best. After all, things extraordinary are reserved for heroes and saints or one James Doolittle. We read about them in biographies and textbooks. And besides, who has time for such aspirations, especially when we are embroiled in the most ordinary circumstances of life: raising families, holding down a job, and participating in other activities we might describe as the “daily grind.”
But what if you and I could point to one day in our lives and say:
That was the day an extraordinary mission was given to me.
Well, in truth, that day has already happened. It was the day of your baptism. Of course, few of us can remember that day. And even if we can, how many of us have pondered the mission that was given us so many years ago?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (# 1213), “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission…”
Extraordinary, don’t you think? In an essay written for AmericanCatholic.org, author Timothy J. Cronin provides us with a checklist of questions regarding the living out of our own extraordinary mission:
Do you turn the other cheek? Do you pray for your enemies? Are you willing to forgive over and over again? When something is demanded of you, do you offer even more than what was originally expected? Are you fair and just? Are you willing to die and rise over and over again? Are you a source of peace and hope for those who know you? Are you willing to ask for forgiveness and try harder—again and again?
You don’t think that’s extraordinary? Just try it.
By the way, my extraordinary mission began on November 25, 1962. How about yours?