by Desiree N. Palacios
Air Force News Service
11/13/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- The
Air Force hosted the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders' final toast to
their fallen comrades during an invitation-only ceremony Nov. 9 at the
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
"Tonight is a night of conflicting emotions: pride in our Doolittle
Tokyo Raiders, sorrow at the end of a mission and a myriad of other
emotions," retired Maj. Lloyd Bryant, the Master of Ceremonies, said as
he opened the ceremony.
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. These
men, led by Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, came to be known as the
Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
The ceremony was attended by three of the four living Doolittle Tokyo
Raiders: retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" E. Cole, the copilot of
Aircraft No. 1; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, the engineer-gunner of
Aircraft No. 7; and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, the engineer-gunner of
Aircraft No. 7. The fourth living Doolittle Raider, retired Lt. Col.
Robert L. Hite, the copilot of Aircraft No. 16, could not attend the
ceremony due to health issues.
"The Doolittle Raiders are the epitome of this innovation spirit of
Airmanship. We owe these 80 men as well as their army and navy teammates
a debt of gratitude," said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric
Fanning. "Gentlemen, once again, thank you for what you did for your
"Thank you for representing all those you served with and thank you for inspiring all of us everyday since then. Godspeed."
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III followed Fanning.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is the greatest professional honor I've
ever had to speak here with this crowd at this event," Welsh said.
"The very first book I read as a young guy was Thirty Seconds over
Tokyo. It was given to me by my father, also a World War II vet, with
the words that I should read it closely because this is this what
America is all about. I've never forgotten those words.
"The Doolittle raiders have been celebrated in book and in journals ...
in magazines ... in various papers. They've had buildings named after
them ... had streets named after them. People play them in movies.
"They hate to hear this, but Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders are truly
lasting American heroes, but they are also Air Force heroes. They
pioneered the concept of global strike ... the idea that no target on
earth is safe from American air power.
"In the last two weeks gentlemen, I've received emails from a number of
today's bomber crew members. They asked me to assure you and your
families this evening that your legacy is strong and safe with them.
Welsh ended his speech by thanking the Raiders for their service to the nation.
"Sir (Cole), for you and the brothers beside you ... your service was a
gift to a nation at war ... the family and friends who stood proudly
beside you since and to hundreds of thousands of American Airmen who
continue to stand on your shoulders and hope to live to your example.
Airpower ... the raiders showed us the way," he said.
Fanning and Welsh presented the Doolittle Raiders with an Eagle as a token of their appreciation and gratitude.
Cole was then asked to open the 1896 Cognac and give a toast. The year of the bottle of cognac is Doolittle's birth year.
"Gentlemen, I propose a toast," Cole said. "To the gentlemen we lost on the mission and those who have passed away since.
"Thank you very much and may they rest in peace," he ended.
The 80 silver goblets in the ceremony were presented to the Raiders in
1959 by the city of Tucson, Ariz. The Raiders' names are engraved twice,
the second upside-down. During the ceremony, white-gloved cadets poured
cognac into the participants' goblets. Those of the deceased were
The Doolittle Raiders received a standing ovation from the crowd, but
before closing the ceremony retired Col. Carroll "C.V" Glines, the
historian for the Doolittle Raiders and a distinguished author, said,
"This concludes the ceremony and also completes a mission."