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Doolittle

Former Nebraska Sen. Lee Rupp, left, astronaut and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Weitz, his son, astronaut and U.S. Air Force veteran Ron Evans' son and Evans are listening Gen. Jimmy Doolittle as he speaks about his Tokyo Raid experience 44 years ago during the Grand National Mixed Bag Hunt in Silver Creek.

Former Nebraska Sen. Lee Rupp wants to make sure Platte County residents don’t forget an important piece of history.

“The more you know about history, the better country we have,” said Rupp, noting it helps to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.

The recording of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who led 16 American B-25 bombers into the Japanese mainland during World War II, will be released for the first time at 7 p.m. today at The American Legion Hartman Post 84, 2263 Third Ave. The event is open to the public.

Rupp was among many who spoke to Doolittle 44 years ago during the Grand National Mixed Bag Hunt – put together by former Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioner Bruce Cowgill – in Silver Creek. The overall goal of the event, which gathered several celebrities like astronauts Ron Evans and Paul Weitz, actors Roy Rogers and Dennis Morgan, and Doolittle, was to educate participants on local wildlife and their natural habitats.

Rupp said he remembers event participants gathering around a campfire listening to Doolittle’s stories. While he was illustrating his experience during the Tokyo Raid, also known as the Doolittle Raid, Rupp took the opportunity to record the information.

The recording captured his experience from start to end, including answers to questions like “How many bombs were dropped?” and “How many men were killed?”

Rupp said the raid was an important part of history, noting it was the country’s first major strike back at the enemy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“He was our living legend,” the Monroe resident said.

Rupp said Veterans Day is more than simply a holiday, it’s a day to honor military veterans and he wanted to do something special to celebrate its importance.

When Mike Landkamer, a former American Legion commander, first listened to the tape, he said it gave him goosebumps. Landkamer said there are a lot of details about the war that can’t be found anywhere else.

“There’s a lot of history there,” he said. “People need to understand what’s going on in this world today and how these guys fought for our freedom.”

Landkamer said the raid led to an important victory that helped boost the country’s morale during the war. He added the recording showcases what veterans went through.

“It is something people need to hear,” he said.

Rupp said many younger people aren't aware of Doolittle and his contributions. Because of this, he doesn’t want this part of history to fall through the cracks of modern society.

The event, Rupp said, will be a good opportunity for people to learn something new and educate themselves.

Rupp said he chose to broadcast the recording in Columbus because many Platte County residents were involved in the hunt, noting some individuals were guides.

“I wish people would be more aware of it,” Rupp said.

Veterans Day is Sunday; it will be observed Monday.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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