A final toast for the Doolittle Raiders

Bob Hubbard

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http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/14/opini...n=Feed:+rss/cnn_topstories+(RSS:+Top+Stories)
They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States. There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation's history. The mere mention of their unit's name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.


Now only four survive.

Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war.

Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona, as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.
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Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.
There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.

So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.

The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date -- some time this year -- to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them.
They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets.


And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.

Cheers gentlemen, and Thank You. You will not be forgotten.
 

jks9199

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I'm glad they're not waiting. It'd be too easy for something to come up and have the tradition not be completed. And I'm glad that they're going to finally open the bottle in privacy -- though I hope that they'll share a picture or two.

And -- I'm grateful for the sacrifice they made and service that they, and all their compatriots, gave.
 
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