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Parker Destin donates rare Doolittle Raiders memorabilia to Northwest Florida State College

Three rare Doolittle Raiders memorabilia pieces, donated by collector Parker Destin, will be showcased at Northwest Florida State College's exhibit, honoring the bravery and sacrifice of the WWII aviators who trained at Eglin Field.
(left) J. Wren Supak, Representative Patt Maney, Parker Destin, and Dr. Devin Stephenson, NWFSC (right)

On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, Parker Destin, a 6th-generation Floridian and passionate collector of historical artifacts, donated three rare Doolittle Raiders memorabilia pieces to Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. 

  • The items will be displayed in the college’s existing Doolittle Raiders Exhibit at Raider Arena which has 750 items in the permanent collection.
  • The Doolittle Raider Exhibit was opened in 2013 during the April anniversary – with three Raiders present for ceremonies.

Destin, alongside Rep. Patt Maney and Northwest Florida State College President Dr. Devin Stephenson, officially presented the college with a first edition copy of “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” signed by the Raiders, a child’s trading card of Jimmy Doolittle from 1934, and a rare promotional poster for the book’s serialization in Collier’s magazine.

  • The signed first edition copy of “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” is Captain Ted Lawson’s firsthand account of the raid, with signatures from most of the Raiders, likely gathered during their 1992 reunion. 
  • The child’s trading card of Jimmy Doolittle from 1934 showcases Doolittle’s pre-raid celebrity status as an aviation pioneer, having been included in cigarette packs and gum packages. 
  • The promotional poster for the book’s serialization in Collier’s magazine is a rare survivor, as these posters were meant to be torn down and discarded after the serialization ended.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo book
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo book
Signatures of some of the Doolittle Raiders inside the Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo book

Destin, who has been collecting Northwest Florida historical documents and artifacts for over 20 years, expressed his enthusiasm for sharing his collection with the public. 

“After 20 years, I think I’ve come to the understanding that a lot of these items are going to be best in institutions like Northwest Florida State College that are going to take care of it in perpetuity so that everyone from around this community can understand their own history and hopefully have a deeper connection to it,” he said.

The child’s trading card of Jimmy Doolittle from 1934

According to Rep. Patt Maney, the exhibit plays a significant role in educating young people about the bravery and sacrifice of the Doolittle Raiders in this military-focused community. 

Maney emphasized that the raid over Tokyo provided a much-needed morale boost for the United States, showing the Japanese that their homeland was vulnerable. He also noted that the volunteers who flew the bombers knew the chances of returning were slim, yet they still stepped up to serve their country. 

  • “Young people today need to know that the nation again may call on them not just to do their part, but like these guys [Raiders], do more than their part,” Maney added.
The child’s trading card of Jimmy Doolittle from 1934

Dr. Devin Stephenson expressed gratitude for the donation and its importance to the college, stating that while there are many Raider teams across the country, there is only one Doolittle Raider team, and they are special to Northwest Florida State College. 

“Anytime we can get memorabilia like this, for us to celebrate the great legacy that we’re really standing on the shoulders of, is so important,” Stephenson said. He publicly thanked Destin for his gift, acknowledging that the college has captured many things in their museum, but this donation is particularly special to them.

The Doolittle Raiders Exhibit at Northwest Florida State College serves as a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the WWII aviators who trained at Eglin Field for the daring 1942 air attack on the Japanese Islands.

The raid provided a significant morale boost for the United States and is considered by many historians to be a critical factor in the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway, a turning point in the Pacific War.

Parker Destin explaining the history of each of the Doolittle items to Dr. Devin Stephenson
The promotional poster for the book’s serialization in Collier’s magazine
Signature of James “Jimmy” Doolittle inside the “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” book

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