Richard A. Knobloch piloted one of the 16 North American B-25 Mitchells that carried out the famed Doolittle Raid, the most daring mission in the annals of aviation history! Knobloch was born in 1918 in Wisconsin. He attended high school in Illinois, but returned to Wisconsin for his university studies. As war clouds rose in Europe, he left school and entered the military as an aviation cadet, training at Randolph and Kelly Fields, in Texas. Receiving his pilot wings in July 1941, he was assigned to submarine patrol in the 37th Bombardment Squadron at Pendleton, Oregon, flying the B-25 Mitchell . Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Knobloch volunteered for a secret mission.
The mission took him to China and would later be named after its famed pioneer aviator leader, Jimmy Doolittle. Knobloch remained in China for over a year, making a dramatic nighttime bailout in a rainstorm, and flying more than 50 missions in the B-25 and the Douglas C-47 Gooney Bird. " In mid-1943, he was reassigned to Eglin Field, Florida. There, as an engineering officer and test pilot, he flew many aircraft including bombers and fighters. In September 1946, he returned to his studies, eventually earning a degree in agriculture at Kansas State College. Later, back in the military, he became Deputy Assistant Chief, Materiel at Twelfth Air Force, March Field, California.
In July 1949, he went to England and attended the Royal Air Force Flying College. He was next assigned to the Ninth Air Force, Pope AFB, North Carolina, as Deputy for Materiel. In July 1953, Knobloch became Vice Commander, 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, and flew the RB-57. Two years later, he attended Strategic Intelligence School and Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C., and was then assigned as Air Attaché in Italy. During 1960-61, Knobloch studied at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, at Ft. McNair, in preparation for duty at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon. He worked for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and then headed the Officers Assignment Division. Next at Randolph AFB, Texas, he became Deputy Commander, USAF Military Personnel Center, and then went to Hawaii, where he was Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, at Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).
In September 1967, he became Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans, at PACAF and remained there until August 1968, when he took command of the First Composite Wing, Headquarters Command, Andrews AFB, Maryland. Since his retirement from the military in 1970, Knobloch has twice served as President of the Wings Club of New York City, an organization of pilots and others active in the aviation industry.
The plan was to fly at night, bomb in the early morning, and recover in China during daylight. But the USS Hornet, a temporary floating USAAF bomber base, was spotted by Japanese pickets about 670 miles from Japan. On 18 April 1942, Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, commanding the daring operation from the USS Enterprise, launched Doolittle's North American B-25 Mitchells about 150 miles early. Four Japanese cities--Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, and Osaka--got a taste of "surprise attack." Although 15 of the 16 raiders crash landed in China or were lost at sea, it was a tremendous boost for America, stung by the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor.