Anyway, for more history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolittle_Raid
I've read two (translated) primary source books from Japan written around the time of the raid and it's hard to believe how much this raid freaked them out. It's not excessive to say that it changed the face of the war inside Japan.
Q: "Did you think during the raid that we'd still be talking about it 70 years later"?
Lt. Col. Richard Cole: "You know, I don't think I ever thought about that at the time, it just happened. I think it's very fortunate for one man, me, to still be around talking to you about that after, what is it... 70 years?".
These guys are bad ass.
WWII had clashes of massive forces where occasionally US soldiers might be purposefully put at exceptional risk (like here), or end up over extended or trapped without a sufficient backup to call on. I don't see that these days.
What I do see is massive military suppression, followed by grueling extended anti-partisan/police action.
Going back a bit further there was some amazing stuff in Korea - mostly after the ChiCom army moved a million men in against us. If you're after the Air Force, then there are some good books around Mig Alley. (Once again, Wikipedia is worthless on most of Korea.)
And, of course, there were things like the Doolittle raid before the Doolittle raid. John Paul Jones had to have an extra boat just to carry his genitalia. There's a reason he's interred in Bancroft Hall. Some good books about him.
My father was in Vietnam. In addition to his personal accounts, I've read quite a bit on the subject. I know that those guys were sent into ridiculous circumstances. I haven't read much about the conflicts of the last two decades, however. But don't get me wrong, my cousin was a marine in Iraq, and I do not consider anything that these guys are going through to be easier, or even less trying than what these pilots did. It just seems a different type of warfare as of late, -a different kind of engagement.
Not trying to belittle anything that anyone has been through at all. I am just under the impression that the military hasn't had to knowingly put soldiers into such desperate circumstances as a matter of course in the last actions.
I do need to read about Afghanistan, however.