Final goodbye

WWII Doolittle Raiders make final toast in Ohio.
Associated Press
Nov 10, 2013


The last of the Doolittle Raiders, all in their 90's, offered a final toast Saturday to their fallen comrades, as they pondered their place in history after a day of fanfare about their 1942 attack on Japan.

"May they rest in peace," Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98, said before the three Raiders present sipped an 1896 cognac from specially engraved silver goblets. The cognac was saved for the occasion after being passed down from their late commander, Lt. Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle, who was born in 1896.

In a ceremony Saturday evening at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, hundreds of people including family members of deceased Raiders watched as the three Raiders each called out "here" as a historian read the names of all 80 of the original airmen.

A B-25 bomber flyover helped cap an afternoon memorial tribute in which a wreath was placed at the Doolittle Raider monument outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton. Museum officials estimated some 10,000 people turned out for Veterans Day weekend events honoring the 1942 mission credited with rallying American morale and throwing the Japanese off balance.

Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said America was at a low point, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other Axis successes, before "these 80 men who showed the nation that we were nowhere near defeat." He noted that all volunteered for a mission with high risks throughout, from the launch of B-25 bombers from a carrier at sea, the attack on Tokyo, and lack of fuel to reach safe bases.

Only four of the 80 are still alive. The Raiders said, at the time, they didn't realize their mission would be considered an important event in turning the war's tide. It inflicted little major damage physically, but changed Japanese strategy while firing up Americans.

"It was what you do ... over time, we've been told what effect our raid had on the war and the morale of the people," Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, said in an interview.

The Brusset, Mont. native, who now lives in Puyallup, Wash., said he was one of the lucky ones.

"There were a whole bunch of guys in World War II; a lot of people didn't come back," he said.

Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 92, of Missoula, Mont., said during the war, the raid seemed like "one of many bombing missions." The most harrowing part for him was the crash-landing of his plane, depicted in the movie "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo."

Three crew members died as Raiders bailed out or crash-landed their planes in China, but most were helped to safety by Chinese villagers and soldiers.

Three of the four surviving Raiders were greeted by flag-waving well-wishers ranging from small children to fellow war veterans. The fourth couldn't travel because of health problems.

Twelve-year-old Joseph John Castellano's grandparents brought him from their Dayton home for Saturday's events.

"This was Tokyo. The odds of their survival were 1 in a million," the boy said. "I just felt like I owe them a few short hours of the thousands of hours I will be on Earth."

More than 600 people, including Raiders widows and children, descendants of Chinese villagers who helped them, and Pearl Harbor survivors, were expected for the invitation-only ceremony Saturday evening.

After Thomas Griffin of Cincinnati died in February at age 96, the survivors decided at the 71st anniversary reunion in April in Fort Walton, Beach, Fla., that it would be their last and that they would gather this autumn for one last toast together instead of waiting, as had been the original plan, for the last two survivors to make the toast.

"We didn't want to get a city all excited and plan and get everything set up for a reunion, and end up with no people because of our age," explained Lt. Col. Richard Cole, the oldest survivor at 98. The Dayton native, who was Doolittle's co-pilot, lives in Comfort, Texas.

Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 93, couldn't come. Son Wallace Hite said his father, wearing a Raiders blazer and other traditional garb for their reunions, made his own salute to the fallen with a silver goblet of wine at home in Nashville, Tenn., earlier in the week.

Hite is the last survivor of eight Raiders who were captured by Japanese soldiers. Three were executed; another died in captivity.

The 80 silver goblets in the ceremony were presented to the Raiders in 1959 by the city of Tucson, Ariz. The Raiders' names are engraved twice, the second upside-down. During the ceremony, white-gloved cadets presented each of the three with their personal goblets and their longtime manager poured the cognac. The deceased's glasses are turned upside-down.




The Men that served this great country have my Respect , but as far as the Goverment , I do not . If you notice , this country is allowing big companies to sell American Jobs to Japan as well as other countries and I believe that we in no way shape or form should have no dealing with Japan . The attack on Pearl Harbor was a black eye and now the Goverment is selling pieces of this fine country to them and its a smack in the face to all who served as well as died and is still in tumbed at pearl harbor , Not to mention its disrespectfull to the ones that served as well as died defnding this country as well as the families that lost love ones .
The U.S Goverment needs to curb and keep America America


Re: "I believe that we in no way shape or form should have no dealing with Japan ."

So should Japan sell their $1.15 trillion in U.S. Treasuries which is helping to finance excessive U.S. govt. spending?

Do ya think that the Chinese should dump their $1.27 trillion as well?

Kottage Kat



Meanwhile, in Japan, the Doolittle Victims held a parallel event. As most were children when bombs were indiscriminately dropped on them attendance was higher. They have no goblets, jackets, or longtime managers.


Re: "when bombs were indiscriminately dropped on them"

The targets were military, not "indiscriminate."

Want atrocities? For ONE, see the "Rape of Nanking":

red white and blue

Sandusksquach^^ u should move ro japan do u know anything about ww11 well? I didn't think so go read up on it and why your there read up on respect and pride for this country and the men and women that made it possible for u god bless these men

No Wake

It seems like the poster above you is expressing compassion for the enemy noncombatants and citizens killed in the operation, God forbid someone recognizes the human toll. I agree that this isn't the best venue for those kinds of thoughts, because it draws out the type of reaction that you've just displayed. Horrible things were done to us and we did horrible things in return, there is nothing to be proud of in war besides the men and women who stepped up to do what was necessary.

As an aside, the proper phrase is "while you're there" not "why your there", and use a capital "i" for roman numerals unless you truly mean to say World War Eleven. Please read up on anything that gives you more exposure to the English language and how it is used in written communication.

red white and blue

No wake I liked your comment and even agreed with it till you got to the English part forgive me for not using the proper grammer.I made my point and apperently you understood it.Also in the future you should think about changing you handle no wake does not fit you.