DAYTON, OHIO – The U.S. Air Force will host the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’ final toast to their fallen comrades during an invitation-only ceremony November 9, 2013 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
On April 18, 1942, 80 men achieved the unimaginable when they took off from an aircraft carrier on a top-secret mission to bomb Japan. Led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, these men came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Today, just four of the men survive: Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, co-pilot of Crew No. 1; Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, co-pilot of Crew No. 16; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, engineer-gunner of Crew No. 15; and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, engineer-gunner of Crew No. 7. At this time, all four Raiders are planning to attend the event.
In 1959 the City of Tucson, Ariz., presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of silver goblets, each bearing the name of one of the 80 men who flew on the mission. At each of their past reunions, the surviving Raiders would conduct their solemn “Goblet Ceremony.” After toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, they would then turn the deceased men’s goblets upside down. The November 9 event will mark their final toast.
The public will also have an opportunity to celebrate these World War II aviation heroes that day through events that include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Doolittle Raiders memorial and a flyover of B-25 aircraft (www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/doolittle.asp).