Chase Nielsen; Flew in Raid With Doolittle Over Tokyo

From Staff and Wire Reports
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chase J. Nielsen, 90, a member of the "Doolittle Raiders" who bombed Japan in 1942, died March 23 at his home in Brigham City, Utah. No cause of death was reported.

Col. Nielsen was a navigator in one of the most daring air raids in U.S. history, when 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from an aircraft carrier and bombed Tokyo on April 18, 1942.

Col. Nielsen and his crew ditched the plane, which was running out of fuel, off the coast of China, and he spent more than three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was one of four POWs from the raid to survive. Four died.

The raid, planned by Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, was the subject of the book and movie "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and the book "Four Came Home," which chronicled the story of Col. Nielsen and the three other survivors.

Col. Nielsen, who returned to China to testify at Japanese war crimes trials just months after he was released, was known for telling his story to anyone who asked.

His death leaves 14 surviving Doolittle Raiders, according to the Web site

Col. Nielsen was born in Hyrum, Utah, and was a 1939 civil engineering graduate of Utah State University. In August 1939, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in June 1941.

He retired from the Air Force in 1961 as a lieutenant colonel and began a career as an industrial engineer at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

His first wife, Cleo McCrary Nielsen, died in 1995.

Survivors include his second wife, Phyllis Henderson; three children from his first marriage; and three stepchildren.

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