KILLEEN — On April 18, 1942, pilots in what was then the U.S. Army Air Force pulled off an unheard-of feat — they stripped down B-25 Mitchell bombers and launched from Naval aircraft carriers to begin the first air strikes on the Japanese home islands.
Called the Doolittle Raid — named after planner Lt. Col. James Doolittle — served to raise American morale and cast doubt on the Japanese, according to doolittleraider.com.
And one native son of Killeen was chosen to take part in the raid.
Capt. Robert Manning Gray was born in Killeen in 1919. While he survived the Doolittle Raid, he was tragically killed in action just six months later at the age of 23 during a mission near Assam, India.
While the local hero — later classified as an Air Force pilot when the U.S. Air Force became a separate service in 1947 — would later have an airfield named after him on Fort Hood, each year since 1943 the City of Killeen proclaims April 18 to be “Bob Gray Day.”
While not currently showing on Killeen’s calendar of events at killeentexas.gov, events honoring Gray are expected to go on Tuesday at the Killeen Airport.
This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid.
Read more about this in Sunday’s Killeen Daily Herald.
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