Doolittle exhibit to launch NWFSC 50th anniversary events

doolittle pic

From left, Okaloosa-Walton Junior College founding president, Dr. J.E. “Ed” McCracken, visits with Gen. Jimmy Doolittle and Congressman Robert L.F. Sikes in 1968 at the school’s Valparaiso campus.

Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 12:52 PM.

NICEVILLE — As a major component of Northwest Florida State College’s more than yearlong recognition of its 50th anniversary, the school plans to open a museum-quality historical display honoring the Doolittle Raiders. The exhibit opens April 17, 2013, the celebration’s kickoff date.

World War II’s aviators, under U.S. Army Air Forces Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle’s command, trained for the April 18, 1942 attack on the Japanese home islands at neighboring Eglin Field. The morale-building aviators and their raid inspired the college’s “Raiders” mascot name, which has been in place since 1964.

“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,” Dr. Ty Handy, the college’s president, stated in a news release.

Handy initiated the idea of creating a Doolittle Raiders exhibit at the college. The display will stand permanently in the Raiders Athletic Arena’s lobby on the school’s main Niceville campus. Information about the exhibit and a fundraising campaign to help underwrite the exhibit are available on the 50th Anniversary website,

NWFSC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration marks the college’s April 1963 establishment by the Florida Legislature and continues through the anniversary of the first semester at the then-Okaloosa-Walton Junior College in August 1964. Under the theme “Continuing the Vision,” anniversary events will focus on the school’s mission of improving local lives through higher education, college spokesperson Sylvia Bryan stated in a news release.

After its founding, the college’s years of service have included changes to its name, following Okaloosa-Walton Junior College with Okaloosa-Walton Community College (1988-2004) and Okaloosa-Walton College (2004-2008). Though the institution’s name has evolved, many locals still fondly refer to the school simply as “OW.”

A 50th Anniversary Committee is finalizing anniversary year events. Updates and announcements will appear on the anniversary website soon, school officials said.

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