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Doolittle Raider, Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, Dies at 94

Lt. Col. Edward Saylor Talks to press in 2013, hours before the four remaining Doolittle Raiders raise their final toast.
Jerry Kenney/WYSO
Lt. Col. Edward Saylor Talks to press in 2013, hours before the four remaining Doolittle Raiders raise their final toast.

In 2013, the last four survivors the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders gathered at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  They raised a final toast in honor of their accomplishment and to the men who died before them.

On Wednesday, Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, one of the final four, died in his home state of Washington. Saylor was the flight engineer of Crew #15 on the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raid. A mission that was said to change the course of World War II.

Credit Jerry Kenney/WYSO

Before the final toast at Wright-Patt, Saylor talked about his experience as a Raider.

“Initially it was no big deal," he said. "The war was on so we went and dropped some bombs and forgot about it for... I spent the rest of the war in Europe. So, I didn’t think a whole lot about it, but over time it sorta developed that our raid was pretty important and they started saying that we changed the course of the war in the pacific and things like that, and so then I began to believe the propaganda.  We’re glad we go away with it and that was that.”

Though Saylor remained humble about the Doolittle mission, in his final years he continued telling his story to groups, young and old—anyone who wanted to know details of the raid.

Among his decorations were the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and most recently, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Saylor was 94.

In this excerpt from WYSO Weekend, Saylor talks about that long-ago mission and his life after coming home.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.