A once-in-a-lifetime event will take place four days from now on 9 Nov 2013. The surviving members of Doolittle’s Raiders will raise their glasses in a final toast – a toast that is 73 years in the making! We’ll tell you how you can participate in this historic event, but first the background on its significance.
As every young U.S. history student has learned (or should have learned), Jimmy Doolittle led a strike force consisting of 16 B-25 bombers on a mission over Tokyo on April 18, 1942. A total of 80 men manned the strike package, all of whom were volunteers on this dangerous mission. The strike came at a desperate time for the American people.
We had just experienced the shock of Pearl Harbor and were virtually unprepared for the war in the Pacific. U.S. forces were reeling from the defeat in the Philippines and digging in for battle on several South Pacific islands. To say the American people were feeling quite defensive at the time is an understatement! Enter Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. This guy had the audacity to plan an attack on the heart of Japan that was so dangerous – even downright insane – that the Japanese never saw it coming. Their plan was to launch the 16 B-25 Mitchell Medium Bombers from the deck of an aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet. But there was just one problem; they couldn’t land on the same deck! Once they were airborne, they were committed to their mission and planned to land in China.
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Even crazier about this strike mission was that it was planned out without any OCA escort! That’s right; no fighter support, just 16 B-25s rumbling into the target area, dropping their ordnance, and running away as quickly as they could.
The plan went was executed spectacularly although not as Lt Col Doolittle imagined. The bombers inflicted little damage to the Japanese. They didn’t hit anything of strategic significance and many of the bombers missed their targets completely. On top of that, all 16 aircraft ended up being destroyed, but all aircrew lived through the ordeal with the exception of three who were caught and executed by the Japanese.
Fast forward to Arizona, USA in 1959. The city of Tucson decided to honor the brave men of Doolittle’s Raiders by presenting them with goblets of silver, each having the name of a crewmember inscribed thereon. With these goblets, the infamous raiders began a tradition of meeting annually to reminisce and to toast their fallen brethren. The goblets have been moved to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio and can be seen on display there. When a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down.
So here we are, 5 November 2013. Only four members of the original 80-member team of Doolittle’s Raiders survive. Due to declining health and an uncertain future, the surviving Raiders (minus one for health reasons) are meeting on 9 November 2013 to raise their brandy-filled silver goblets in one final toast to their deceased brethren.
The toast will be held in private at the museum; however, a big welcome is planned and an open invitation stands to all who wish to attend the memorial service following the toast.
If you are in the area and wish to attend the welcome party and memorial service, you may certainly do so. Details are published on the museum’s website. If you’re like me and won’t be able to make it to Ohio, you can watch a live feed from a link on the homepage of the National Museum of the Air Force.
It’s sad to see the end of such a proud tradition. When I read about American heroes like the Dootlittle Raiders and learn of their selflessness and courage, I am never more proud to be an American!
Posted by Tally One Admin
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