CINCINNATI - More than seven decades after an audacious bombing run by the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders rallied their own nation while stunning another, the World War II heroes are still adding to their legacy.
The group will receive the Congressional Gold Medal on April 15 in Washington then present it on April 18 - the 73d anniversary of the raid - to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
The gold medal will go on display at the museum near Dayton, Ohio, joining an exhibit depicting the launch from an aircraft carrier of the Raiders' daring 1942 attack on Japan.
The only two surviving Raiders - retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher - plan to attend the museum ceremony.
A third Doolittle Raider, Lt. Col. Robert Hite, died Sunday at a Nashville, Tenn., nursing facility. He was 95.
Relatives of the 80 Raiders also are expected to attend the weekend of events, some of them private.
The gold medal - the highest civilian honor Congress can give - is also a tribute to the mission's leader, the late Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle, Cole said. Doolittle died in 1993 at age 96.
While the 16 B-25 bombers launched at sea inflicted only scattered damage on Japan, the attack was credited with boosting American morale while shaking Japan's confidence and prompting strategy shifts less than five months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
"We did everything that the mission was planned to do," said Cole, who was Doolittle's copilot.
Cole, 99, and the other Raiders have often given humble assessments of their heroism, saying they were simply performing their duties, and he did again last week when discussing the gold medal.
"I think it's very nice," said Cole, who attended President Obama's signing last year of the legislative measure to strike the gold medal. "But it was something that might be a bit too much."