WWII hero Bill Bower, the last "Doolittle Raider" pilot, dies at 93

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Col. William Marsh "Bill" Bower, the last surviving pilot of "Doolittle's Raiders" who bombed Japan in 1942, died Monday at his home in south Boulder.

He was 93 and "lived a completely full life," said his son Jim Bower.

"My dad was a hell of a guy," he said. "He was a brave soul, a warrior. He was everybody's friend. He did all kinds of volunteer work. He was an exceptional human being."

Bill Bower was hailed as a hero for his role in the United States' first air attack on Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He volunteered and was chosen for the mission, which was planned and led by Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle.

On April 18, 1942, 16 B25B Mitchell medium bombers took off from the decks of the U.S.S. Hornet in the western Pacific Ocean. Because landing planes of that size on the Hornet was impossible, the pilots continued toward China after bombing their targets in Japan.

All but one of the aircraft, which landed in the Soviet Union, crashed in China or were ditched at sea. Of the 80 crew members, 11 were either captured or killed; the rest returned to the United States.

On his return, Bower married Lorraine Amman in 1942.

Bower continued to serve during World War II, assuming command of the 428th Bombardment Squadron and joining Allied invasion forces in Africa. He remained there and in Italy until September 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his role in the raids.

After the war, he worked as a planner and accident investigator for the U.S. Air Force and served in the Arctic as commander of a U.S. Air Force transport organization. He also served as commander at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Ga....

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