The Air Force Academy football team kicked up virtual praise — and criticism — for its new alternate uniform, honoring airmen that carried out the World War II “Doolittle Raid” on Japan, considered one of the most daring, defining moments in Air Force history.
The Falcons’ alternate uniform, unveiled last week, will honor the pilots and crew of the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. One of the academy’s posts on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has racked up nearly 8 million views. Comments have ranged from “awesome uniforms honoring our heroes” to “this is awful taste” and “zero class.”
“This year’s edition of the Doolittle Raiders has been extremely well-received,” Troy Garnhart, a spokesperson for Air Force Academy’s athletic department, told Military Times via email Wednesday.
“The post you mention has caused a few negative social media posts, but most of the people on the forum have reacted to the negative posts in a supportive way for the academy,” he added.
The uniforms themselves feature a chrome helmet with “B-25″ on the front and nicknames of specific planes or “Doolittle” on the back, honoring Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, who led the attack. The multiple-city raid was launched by the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 18, 1942, by 80 pilots and crew of 16 B-25B Mitchell bombers that took off from the Navy aircraft carrier Hornet.
Although the raid caused only minor damage, it forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense, raised fears among Japanese civilians and boosted morale among Americans and their allies, according to the National Museum of the Air Force website.
Garnhart explained that the uniform was selected as a part of the annual Air Power Legacy Series to honor historical moments of the Department of the Air Force and Army Air Corps along with the aircraft used during those moments. Last year, the alternate uniform design honored the Space Force.
The Falcons kick off their football season on Saturday, Sept. 2, by hosting Robert Morris University at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Doolittle uniforms get their first outing on Oct. 21 for the game against the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media