- When we get to Chunking, I'm going to give you all a party that you won't forget, was Lt. Colonel James Doolittle's promise to the 16 B-25 crews aboard the USS Hornet a few days before their historic air raid on Japan. By late afternoon on April 18th, 1942 the relative safety of the China coast was all that Lt. Donald G. Smith's crew had on their minds. The 15th aircraft (# 40-2267) to leave the carrier's deck had bombed its targets in Kobe, Japan but the crewmen knew they'd never make their designated landing strip on the Chinese mainland. The weather had become increasingly worse and visibility had dropped to zero. Lt. Smith was forced to ditch his bomber off an island on the Chinese Coast near Sangchow.All of Aircraft 15's crew would eventually make their way to Chunking but sixteen of the other Doolittle's Raiders did not. Doolittle himself would rise to the rank of full General. It is the stuff of aviator legend that when the last Raider makes his final flight westward into the day's fading light he will be greeted by his fellow Raiders and the General, and they will have a party never to be forgotten.When Bill Phillips painted The Giant Begins to Stir, he embarked on an artist's journey that grew to become a visual history of the United States' response to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor - Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle's air raid on Japan launched, for the first time ever, from the sea. The limited edition of The Giant Begins to Stir (co-signed by surviving Doolittle Raiders) was followed by I Could Never Be So Lucky Again (co-signed by Jimmy Doolittle) and Evasive Action at Sagami Bay, (co-signed by surviving Doolittle Raiders.) The final painting in this series is Westbound - A Date with the General, illustrates the dramatic flight of Lt. Smith's Crew #15. The limited edition print and canvas will be signed by Doolittle Raiders survivors.Why chronicle any historical event. asks artist Bill Phillips. Because paintings like Westbound - A Date with the General, he says, help us to understand the times in which we live. Remembering the sacrifices of brave men and women help us to be more aware of how we should view this great country and the freedoms we so often take for granted.In an interesting aside, Bill Phillips' father, a character actor in Los Angeles in the 1940s and '50s, played a pilot in the film 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, as well as in Dive Bomber, and as Sergeant Kirby in A Yank in Korea.Cosigned by -Msgt. USAF Edwin W. Horton Jr. (Ret.)Msgt. USAF Thomas C. Griffin (Ret.)Msgt. USAF David J. Thatcher (Ret.)Lt. Col. USAF Richard E. Cole (Ret.)Lt. Col. USAF Charles J. Ozuk Jr. (Ret.)Col. USAF William Bowers (Ret.)Maj. Gen. USAF David M. Jones (Ret.)Lt. Col. USAF Edward J. Saylor (Ret.)
- The Artist
- Phillips grew up loving art but never thought he could make it his livelihood. At college he majored in criminology and he had been accepted into law school when four of his paintings were sold at an airport restaurant. That was all the incentive he needed to begin his work as a fine art painter. Bill Phillips is now the aviation artist of choice for many American heroes and the nostalgic landscape artist of choice for many collectors. Bill's strengths as a landscape painter are what gave him an edge in the aviation field - respect and reverence for a time and place. When one sees his aviation pieces, thoughts are about the courageous individuals who risked their lives for our freedom. In Bill's landscapes, the viewer understands fully what that freedom is ... the precious values that make life worth living.
After one of his paintings was presented to King Hussein of Jordan, Phillips was commissioned by the Royal Jordanian Air Force to create sixteen major paintings, many of which now hang in the Royal Jordanian Air Force Museum in Amman. The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum presented a one-man show of Phillips' work in 1986; he is one of only a few artists to have been so honored.
In 1988, Phillips was chosen to be a U.S. Navy combat artist. For his outstanding work, the artist was awarded the Navy's Meritorious Public Service Award and the Air Force Sergeants Association's Americanism Medal. At least one of Phillips' works was chosen in the top 100 each time he entered "Art for the Parks," the prestigious annual fund-raiser for the National Park Service, and he received the Art History Award from the National Park Foundation several times.
September 11, 2001, hit Phillips very hard emotionally. Out of his distress came the painting A Prayer for My Brother. Fine art prints of this piece have been placed in many fire departments across the country, with a portion of the proceeds going to help families of fallen firefighters.
In 2004, he was chosen by the National Park Service to be the first Artist in Residence at the Grand Canyon where his assignment included paintings to interpret the park's purpose as a place of pleasure and its importance as a national treasure.
He is regularly invited to participate in the annual Masters of the American West Exhibition and Sale at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, an invitational for the top artists in the US. Bill is currently working on a large project documenting the Los Angeles Fire Department which will be placed in their museum. In October, 2013, the artist was inducted into the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor, along with Doolittle Raider co-pilot Robert Emmens.