In 1937, a 23-year-old native of Medford, Ore., Robert G. Emmens, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and five years later co-piloted one of the 16 B-25 bombers in the famous Doolittle Raid on Japan during World War II.
A graduate of Medford High School who attended the University of Oregon, Emmens was assigned to the 17th Bomb Group and co-piloted Crew No. 8 in Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle’s risky attack on Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
First Lt. Emmens co-piloted Crew No. 8 under Doolittle’s command. The raiders planned to land in China after dropping their bombs because the planes were incapable of landing on the aircraft carrier that launched them. Running out of fuel, Emmens’ plane landed in Russia. The other bomber crews either crashed on the China coast or bailed out. Emmens’ crew was interned in Russia for 13 months before escaping through Iran, an experience described in his book titled “Guests of the Kremlin.”
Highly decorated by the United States and Japan, Emmens died in Medford in 1992 and is buried in Eastwood IOOF Cemetery.
Sources: “Robert G. Emmens." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikipedia, 15 Apr. 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_G._Emmens. Accessed 17 Jan. 2017; McRoberts, T.J. "Col. Robert G. Emmens (1914-1992)." Find a Grave Memorial, 11 Apr. 2007, www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=18871058. Accessed 16 Jan. 2017; "Col. Robert G. Emmens 2013." The Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor, Evergreen Museum, 2015, www.evergreenmuseum.org/oregon-aviation-hall-of-honor. Accessed 17 Jan. 2017.