Doolittle Raiders Give Final Toast


The silver goblets of the Doolittle Raiders - you can see all but four are inverted.

The 80 men of the legendary Doolittle Raid were honored this past Saturday with a toast by three of their four surviving comrades.

The festivities, which took place over Veterans' Day weekend, began with a memorial tribute to the 80 men at the Doolittle Raiders monument at the National Museum of the US Air Force and featured a flyover by a B-25 bomber - the same kind used in the raid. The three present raiders also participated in their traditional toast using their personally engraved goblets and a bottle of Cognac from 1896, Jimmy Doolittle's birth year.

The ceremony was invitation-only, and more than 600 people were expected to attend. The invited included not only family of present and deceased Raiders, Pearl Harbor survivors, and but even relatives of the Chinese villagers who helped the Raiders escape once they made it safely into China.

The Doolittle Raiders took off from the USS Hornet at 0820 on April 18, 1942 in specially modified B-25 bombers. They flew in a loose formation at wave-top level in order to avoid detection, and arrived over Tokyo at around noon. The Raiders inflicted light damage to military and industrial targets in Tokyo, and then headed toward mainland China. Of the 16 aircraft, 14 made it either to China (although the crews bailed out, not having enough fuel to land) or the Soviet Union.

The final toast, given by Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98, was a simple one: "May they rest in peace".