NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lt. Col. Robert Hite, one of the famed World War II "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders," has died. He was 95.
Wallace Hite told The Associated Press that his father died Sunday morning at a nursing facility in Nashville. He was battling Alzheimer's disease.
"Today he decided to go home and be with his wife," Wallace Hite said.
Hite was among 80 men aboard 16 B-25 bombers whose mission was to strike Japan in April 1942. While the attack inflicted only scattered damage, it 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.
Eight Raiders were captured and three were executed; one more died in captivity and three others were killed after crash-landing or ditching at sea. Hite was among the Japanese captives and was imprisoned for 40 months.
He was liberated by American troops in 1945. In 1951, he returned to active duty during the Korean War and served overseas before relief from active duty in 1955.
Wallace Hite said his father would want to be remembered for his patriotism, and for others to share the same sentiment.
"I think he would want two things: that's the attitude we ought to have about our country; and the second is, he was just doing his job," he said.
Hite's passing leaves two other surviving Raiders: retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher.
The Raiders will be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal on April 15 in Washington, then present it on April 18 — the 73rd 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, joining an exhibit depicting the launch from an aircraft carrier of the Raiders' 1942 attack.