|Monday - November 11, 2013
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News and Comments....
To all of those that have and
those that still are putting your life on the
line to protect us... Thank
World War II's Surviving Doolittle
Raiders Make Final Toast
Published November 10, 2013
| Associated Press
DAYTON, Ohio - Known as
the Doolittle Raiders, the 80 men who risked their
lives on a World War II bombing
mission on Japan after the attack on Pearl
Harbor were toasted one last
time by their surviving comrades and honored
with a Veterans Day weekend
of fanfare shared by thousands.
Three of the four surviving Raiders
attended the toast Saturday at the
National Museum of the U.S.
Air Force. Their late commander, Lt. Gen. James
"Jimmy" Doolittle, started the
tradition but they decided this autumn's
ceremony would be their last.
"May they rest in peace," Lt.
Col. Richard Cole, 98, said before he and
fellow Raiders -- Lt. Col. Edward
Saylor, 93, and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher,
92 -- sipped cognac from specially
engraved silver goblets. The 1896 cognac
was saved for the occasion after
being passed down from Doolittle.
Hundreds invited to the ceremony,
including family members of deceased
Raiders, watched as the three
each called out "here" as a historian read the
names of all 80 of the original
The fourth surviving Raider,
Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 93, couldn't travel to
Ohio because of health problems.
But 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.
A B-25 bomber flyover helped
cap an afternoon memorial tribute in which a
wreath was placed at the Doolittle
Raider monument outside the museum.
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
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.
The Raiders have said they didn't
realize at the time that 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," Saylor said in an interview.
The Brussett, 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.
Thatcher, of Missoula, Mont.,
said the raid just seemed like "one of many
bombing missions" during the
war. The most harrowing part for him was the
crash landing of his plane,
depicted in the movie "Thirty Seconds over
Cole, of Comfort, Texas, was
Doolittle's co-pilot that day. 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.
Cole, Saylor and Thatcher were
greeted Saturday by flag-waving well-wishers
ranging from small children
to fellow war veterans. Twelve-year-old Joseph
John Castellano's grandparents
brought him from their Dayton home.
"This was Tokyo. The odds of
their survival were one 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."
Organizers said more than 600
people, including descendants of Chinese
villagers who helped the Raiders
and Pearl Harbor survivors, were invited to
the final-toast ceremony.
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.
( It was hard to watch this tradition
come to an end.)
A great time was had by those
who dined at Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill
Saturday evening. It was
good to see old friends. Wish more could have
attended. We decided that
we were not going to wait as long next time.
Life is a tragedy for those who
feel, and a comedy for those who think.
-Jean de la Bruyere, essayist
and moralist (1645-1696)
That's it for today, have a good
week, and be careful out there,
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