Air Force Academy gets mixed reviews for football uniforms commemorating Doolittle Raid
Stars and Stripes August 23, 2023
The Air Force Academy has unveiled the tribute uniform its football team will wear Oct. 21 to mixed reviews, not all of them fashion related.
The Falcons’ uniform honors the 80 pilots and crewmen of the Doolittle Raid, the flight of 16 B-25B Mitchell bombers launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet against targets in Japan on April 18, 1942.
The team plans to wear the uniform against Navy in Annapolis, Md.
The official announcement Friday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, proved to be its own target. “An ambush,” read the post that shows an academy player in uniform over a newspaper clipping of the Doolittle Raid.
Comments beneath the post mingled endorsements with critiques that it was “insensitive to Japan” and “tone deaf.”
Led by Army Air Force Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, the raiders bombed selected targets in Tokyo and other locations on the Japanese island of Honshu.
Although the Doolittle Raid caused relatively little damage, it forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense, raised fears among the Japanese civilians and boosted morale among Americans and their allies, according to the National Museum of the Air Force website.
“The Air Power Legacy Series uniform is selected to honor historical moments of the Department of the Air Force and Army Air Corps and aircraft used during these moments,” Troy Garnhart, spokesman for Air Force Academy athletics, told Stars and Stripes by email Tuesday.
More than 7 million people had reacted to the X post with over 400 comments as of early Wednesday.
“This year’s edition of the Doolittle Raiders has been extremely well received,” Garnhart said. “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.”
The Doolittle football uniform is part of the Air Force Academy Air Power Legacy Series started in 2016, according to the Air Force Academy website.
"The Air Power Legacy Series has been one of the most popular things we have done in terms of uniforms and social media,” Garnhart said. “The series has grown since its beginning in 2016 and the uniform reveal has always stirred emotions of patriotism.”