Doolittle Raiders Exhibit Planned for NWF Raiders Arena
What’s in a nickname? Plenty, if you know the history behind the Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) school mascot – “Raiders”.
It began more than 70 years ago with a secrecy shrouded mission at an isolated airfield at Eglin Field, now Eglin Air Force Base. It would culminate when a band of daring fliers dubbed the “Doolittle’s Raiders” soared off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and bombed the Empire of Japan for the first time in World War II – a daring reply to the attack at Pearl Harbor. The leader of the Raiders was then Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, who led the squadron of B-25s on the historic raid – a feat for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
To heighten knowledge of the legacy and heritage behind the Raiders mascot name and to bring the story of these true American heroes to students for decades to come, the college plans to open a permanent exhibit in the lobby of the college’s Raiders Athletic Arena on the Niceville campus to honor the Doolittle Raiders. The museum-quality display will feature the story of the historic raid and the college’s collection of Raiders memorabilia.
The exhibit, now in the planning stages, is scheduled to open April 17, 2013 as part of the kick-off for the college’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration. The college was established by the Florida legislature in April 1963 and first opened its doors for students as Okaloosa-Walton Junior College in August 1964. Surviving Raiders crew members are scheduled to visit the exhibit opening and anniversary kick-off assembly as part of the 71st annual Raiders Reunion being held the same weekend in Fort Walton Beach. “The permanent exhibit is especially important to the college because the proud ‘Raiders’ name was selected as our mascot by students during our first year of operation to honor the brave airmen who trained at Eglin and our current and future students should know this history,” noted NWFSC president Dr. Ty Handy, who initiated the idea of creating a Doolittle Raiders exhibit at the college.
The college is currently accepting tax-deductible donations from individuals or corporations to help underwrite the cost of the exhibit. Information can be found at www.nwfsc.edu/50 or contact the NWFSC Foundation at (850) 729-5357 or email email@example.com.