89th ATKS: Living Doolittle Legacy

By 1st Lt. Scarlett Trujillo 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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Approximately 77 years ago, pilots and crews from what was once the 89th Reconnaissance Squadron prepared themselves for an endeavor, which would change the course of history, as well as the future of airpower.  

“Sixteen aircraft were involved (in the Doolittle Raids), of those aircraft, four came directly from the 89th (RS),” said 1st Lt. Dakota, pilot with the 89th Attack Squadron. “Captained by Lt. Joyce, Capt. Greening, Maj. Hilger and Lt. Smith, who were all directly from the 89th, as well as the some of the crews who were in those aircraft.”

These aircraft, B-25B Mitchells, were on the cutting edge of military power and being used in first-ever tactics; not only empowering the American people during a time after tragedy, but empowering the military to push boundaries like never before.

Today, the Doolittle Raider, and specifically the 89th RS, legacy lives on through the 89th ATKS. Their Airmen celebrated the anniversary alongside the other three original Doolittle squadrons during a ceremony at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, April 18, 2019.

“If you don't know what your heritage is, you don’t know how to best align yourself for the future,” said Maj. Troy, director of operations with the 89th ATKS.  “We have to look back and understand what was done to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this country, and ensure we’re ready and willing to make similar sacrifices in the fight today.”

The celebration gave the squadrons an opportunity to reflect on their heritage as well as share some of their most recent successes with an audience of their peers and the local community.

Once the formal ceremony had completed, all guests were invited to see a B-25 take off in memory of those who flew April 18, 1942.

“I think our Airmen truly embody the spirit of the Doolittle Raiders,” said Master Sgt. Nathan, first sergeant with the 89th ATKS. “They were bold and innovative, and our Airmen here in the squadron are that way today. We’re always trying to find new ways to do things, and are willing to take risk for great payoff.”

The 89th ATKS was the first of the MQ-9 Reaper squadrons to fly the Block 5 MQ-9 in combat, and the first to restructure the integration of intelligence by forming a Mission Planning Execution Cell.

“It’s a different world now; however, we’re doing the same kind of thing, we’re going places we didn’t think we could go before, doing things we didn’t think were possible, and with a new airframe,” said 1st Lt. Steve, pilot with the 89th ATKS. “The battlefield may have changed; however, we still strive to bring the same kind of effects those brave men did back in 1942.”