Final Farewell From Historic Comrades
THREE OF THE LAST FOUR SURVIVING Doolittle's Raiders gathered with friends, relatives and admirers this past Saturday to honor their colleagues and all military casualties with a champaigne toast. By agreement, this was to be their final reunion as time has taken their partners and left little for them as well.
Three of the four surviving members of the 1942 Tokyo raid led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, left to right, David Thatcher, Edward Saylor, and Richard Cole, pose next to a monument marking the raid, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, outside the National Museum for the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The fourth surviving member, Robert Hite, was unable to travel to the ceremonies. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
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.
The historic air raid on April 18, 1942, was especially noted for the bravery of the 80 crewmen who manned the 16 B-25 twin engine bombers knowing that they would not have enough fuel to return to a safe landing space after bombing Japanese homelands.
For the first time ever, light bombers were launched from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific with the primary goal of creating confusion and depression among the Japanese civilians who had been promised by their military leaders that they were safe from any enemy in their home country.
The plan was to invade the country without warning and bomb military targets before flying on into China where they would ditch the planes and survive by relying on clandestine help by the friendly Chinese citizens.
Fifteen of the aircraft reached China, and the other one landed in the Soviet Union. All but three of the crew survived, but all the aircraft were lost. Eight crewmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of these were executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok was confiscated and its crew held captive for more than a year. Fourteen crews, except for one crewman, returned either to the United States or to American forces.
In this July 14, 1943 photo, Maj. Gen. James Doolittle, (third from left, front row) who led the air raid on Japan, April 18, 1942, and some of the men who flew with him drink a champagne toast from coffee cups during a reunion in North Africa on the first anniversary of the flight.
Flyers are left to right front row: Maj. William Bower, Ravenna, OH; Maj. Travis Hoover, Arlington, Calif.; Maj. Gen. Doolittle Lt. Col. Harvey Hinman, San Francisco, (not one of raiders); Capt. Neston C. Daniel, Plaquemine, LA., Back row left to right: Capt. Howard A. Sessler of Arlington, Mass., who brought the picture to this country; Capt. William R. Pound, Jr., Kent Homes VA.; Maj. Rodney R. Wilder, Taylor, Tex.; Capt. James M. Arker, Livingston, Tex., Maj. Charles R. Greening, Tacoma, Wash., Maj. Joseph Klein, Paradise, Tex.; Capt. Griffith P. William, San. Diego, Calif., and Capt. Thomas C. Griffin, Chicago, Ill. (AP Photo)
While the amount of actual damage inflicted by the bombing run was negligible, the primary goals of boosting American morale and shattering the Japanese false security was substantial. The raid immediately flew into the history books as well and still today is one of the legendary exploits of modern military tactics.
In this April 17, 1987 file photo, thirty members of Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo Raiders pose for a group picture in front of a B-25J bomber in Torrance, Calif., as they gather for a reunion. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
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