By Dale Hultgren
Dassel American Legion
DASSEL, MN Captain Jim Johns, retired Army Aviation, of Bloomington, will speak at the Dassel American Legion meeting Thursday, July 20. His presentation will take place at the Dassel-Area Historical Society at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.
Johns is considered to be one of Minnesota’s leading authorities on the historical aspects of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
History has always been important to Johns. He authored books on the history of World War II, and actively participated in the reconstruction of 19 different WW II airplanes.
Johns said he got into publishing his writing quite casually. He sent the manuscript of his first book to three publishers in 2015. He said he was amazed when the first two publishers wanted his work.
Johns also helped reconstruct a glider similar to the one that area native Kermit Swanson flew into combat twice on D-Day in 1944. (Swanson was recently honored for his seven decades of service with the Dassel American Legion, and was profiled in the May 15 edition of the Enterprise Dispatch.)
The reconstructed glider is now housed at the Air Museum in Granite Falls. Swanson was honored at the dedication of the glider several years ago, and Johns was the keynote speaker of that celebration.
Johns’ talk Thursday, July 20 will focus on the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April 1942.
Sixteen B-25s flew off aircraft carriers and bombed five major industrial cities on the mainland of Japan.
The significance of this raid was primarily psychological, as the citizens of Japan were convinced that their homeland was invulnerable.
The Doolittle Raid stunned the Japanese, and forced them to realize that America was in the war until a final conclusion was reached.
This raid took place just five months after Pearl Harbor. The consensus of opinion among the Japanese warlords, before the Doolittle Raid, was that they had rendered America powerless to stop their aggression in the western Pacific.
After the Doolittle Raid, the Japanese were forced to realize that Admiral Yamamoto’s prediction that they had done nothing more than “awakened a sleeping giant,” was coming true.
An interesting sidelight to Johns’ story about this event is its connection to Minneapolis.
It appears that the raid would never have occurred without the help of the citizens of Minneapolis, and Johns will share why during his presentation.
Accompanying Johns July 20 will be his wife, Dorothea, who grew up under Hitler’s regime in Germany.
Her family fled eastern Germany near the end of the war, and were rescued by the American Army in Bavaria.
Johns hopes others respect history as much as he does. “It always repeats itself,” he said.