Thomas C. Griffin

Al Behrman

CINCINNATI - Maj. Thomas C. Griffin, a B-25 navigator in the audacious Doolittle's Raid attack on mainland Japan during World War II, has died.

His death at age 96 leaves four surviving Raiders.

Griffin died Tuesday in a veterans nursing home in northern Kentucky. He was among the 80 original volunteers for the daring April 18, 1942, mission. When they began training, they were told only it would be "extremely hazardous," coming in the aftermath of Japan's devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and a string of other Japanese military successes.

"We needed to hit back," Griffin said in an interview a year ago in his suburban Cincinnati home. The attack on Tokyo, with a risky aircraft-carrier launch of 16 bombers, normally land-based, shocked the Japanese and provided a major lift to American morale.

The planes lacked fuel to reach safe bases after dropping their bombs.

Griffin parachuted over China after the attack, eluded Japanese capture and returned to action in bombing runs from North Africa before being shot down in 1943 and spending nearly two years in a German prison camp.