Three of America’s military academies have football teams that compete at the FBS level, and while Army and Navy tend to attract the bulk of the attention, the Air Force Falcons have also been competing for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since the program formed in 1955.
Air Force has traditionally donned blue and white uniforms with a signature lightning bolt emblazoned on their helmets, but prior to the start of the 2023 season, they opted to join the many other college football teams that have whipped up some alternative uniforms.
Earlier this week, the team unveiled a new get-up inspired by the Doolittle Raid, an Air Force operation where 16 B-25B Mitchell bombers dropped their payload on military and industrial targets in Tokyo and other locations on Honshu (the island where the capital is located) in April 1942, which marked the first time the United States attacked the Japanese mainland in the wake of Pearl Harbor.
Following the reveal, a Twitter account associated with the Air Force football program dropped a number of graphics that were used to recount the story of that particular raid and provide some more context for various aspects of the design.
However, none of them attracted more attention than a picture containing a newspaper headline covering the bombings along with a quote from General James Dolittle, who stated, “The Japanese were apparently entirely unprepared for our arrival” in the wake of the operation.
While I can sort of understand the rationale behind the series of posts, plenty of people who came across that particular tweet seemed to take exception to the decision to reference the military operation to drum up hype for some new uniforms (especially when you consider they capped off the string of posts with a link encouraging people to “Get your Doolittle Raiders gear”).
Equating football to a literal war is a very bad thing.
— New Nature Boy (@net_elephant) August 18, 2023
there's a lot here but in before the war dads:
the Doolittle raid was primarily a Navy product finished off by the USAAF, this isn't even the right one to claim https://t.co/8c7iSh12qK
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) August 18, 2023
Delete this. Do better!
— Jonathan (@iampangean) August 18, 2023
It’s obviously worth noting there were plenty of others who seemed to be a fan of the uniforms and the approach that was used to promote them, as supporters were quick to remind critics Air Force is, in fact, a school that prepares people to join the military and potentially fight in conflicts that require actions like the Doolittle Raid.
Hilarious how many people are finding out what the United States Air Force does this morning. https://t.co/UihWUMotpt
— Manhattan Hell (@ManhattanHell) August 18, 2023
Honoring the men that that executed the first mission against Imperial Japan after they slaughtered thousands at Pearl Harbor is offending people. These people are soft! Love these unis
— Dusty Bottoms (@MasonInTexas) August 18, 2023
I find it so funny how people post their opposing opinions on something like this. It’s interesting how few realize that we are allowed to openly express these opinions because of the people, such as the Doolittle Raiders, who put their lives on the line for this country.
— Coach H (@Coach_H_009) August 18, 2023
However, regardless of your personal stance, I think it’s pretty easy to understand why plenty of people were rubbed the wrong way.