OKALOOSA, Fla., April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the end of an era approaches, three of the last four surviving members of the famed Doolittle Raiders – the airmen who bombed Tokyo in April 1942 in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – will assemble for one last reunion in Ft. Walton Beach where they trained for their historic mission 71 years ago. A series of commemorative events, including rides aboard five historic B-25 bombers, and a flyover of numerous historic WWII-era aircraft, will be offered to the public at various times April 17-21.
"We are honored to have these true American heroes together for their final official gathering here in Okaloosa County," says Dan O'Byrne, director of Okaloosa County's Tourist Development Department. "This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience living history firsthand. These men and their comrades risked everything to protect the freedom Americans enjoy today, and we know it is a special privilege to have them back here seven decades later."
In addition to having the surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders, visitors to Ft. Walton Beach will see an array of airworthy historic WWII-era aircraft across the area's skies arriving from all corners of the country. Of particular note are five lovingly restored, B-25 Mitchell bombers that will visit the Destin Airport (DSI) in conjunction with the reunion events. These are the same model of bombers the Doolittle Raiders used to launch their attack on Japan.
The B-25s will be displayed at the Destin Airport from Wednesday, April 17 through Sunday, April 21, and will be available for flights for the general public. The cost is $425 to experience the thrill of flying in the very same type of plane that helped the Allies win the war.
They will also participate in "Thirty Seconds Over the Emerald Coast," a flyby on Friday, April 19, at 6 p.m. The B-25s and other historic aircraft will fly over the beaches of Okaloosa Island. O'Byrne says this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these historic planes over the very same sands where they flew during the Raiders' training at Eglin Field in March of 1942. The prime viewing location for this event will be the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island.
The planes will also fly in formation over the "Parade of Heroes" on Saturday, April 20, at 11:00 a.m. This special community salute to the military will feature World War II veterans, veterans from the Korean War, The Vietnam War, the Gulf Wars, in addition to active duty personnel. Visitors are invited to participate in this grand celebration of the country's military heritage.
Visitors needing accommodations should visit http://www.emeraldcoastoffers.com, where they can find room discounts of up to 45 percent across the Ft. Walton Beach area through May 23. In addition to sugar white sand, emerald green Gulf waters and lots of sunshine, the beaches of the Emerald Coast in Okaloosa County offer many other fun vacation activities, including fishing, boating, dining, music concerts and free events.
For more information about the Doolittle Raiders reunion and a full schedule of events visit: http://www.fwbchamber.org/events/eventdetail.aspx?EventID=459.
About Okaloosa County Tourism Development Department
The Okaloosa County Tourism Development Department promotes Okaloosa County as a tourism destination through marketing and advertising of Okaloosa County's beautiful Emerald Coast. The TDD oversees the operation of the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, Emerald Coast Convention Center and Emerald Coast Film Commission, the Visitors Welcome Center and conservation efforts aimed at improving and protecting the natural environment of Okaloosa County.
SOURCE Okaloosa County Tourism Development Department