A Final Toast to Fallen Comrades

Of the 80 men involved with Doolittle's Raid, only four survive today. They were hailed as heroes for giving the U.S. its first victory against Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After many years of raising a glass of cognac to fallen comrades, on November 9th, three of the four will participate in the final Toast Ceremony, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  

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, Cole, Saylor and Thatcher plan to participate on-site and Hite hopes to watch the ceremony from his residence due to health concerns.

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 Nov. 9 event will mark their final toast.

The Toast Ceremony itself is not open to the public, but everyone is invited to be there to greet the Raiders, and the museum will provide a live internet feed. There are other public ceremonial and educational events planned for the weekend. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Flodadolf)

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