in honor of our veterans and serving soldiers

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Blog entry by patron posted 11-11-2013 12:50 AM 1599 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s the cup of brandy that no one wants to drink.

On Tuesday, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the surviving
Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.

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.

After Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United
States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn
the war effort around.

Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to
Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring
plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could
take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never
before been tried—sending such big, heavy bombers from a

The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.

But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of
the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off
from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted
on. They were told that because of this they would not have
enough fuel to make it to safety.

And those men went anyway.

They bombed Tokyo, and then flew as far as they could. Four
planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the
Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed.
Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew
made it to Russia.

The Doolittle Raid sent a message from the United States to its
enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no
matter what it takes, we will win.

Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as
national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced
a motion picture based on the raid; “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,”
starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and
emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the
national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM
proclaimed that it was presenting the story “with supreme pride.”

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.

Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.

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.

As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February,
Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.

What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.


-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

22 comments so far

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3972 days

#1 posted 11-11-2013 01:01 AM

Wow, David. What an incredible story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. What an amazing group of heroes.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4789 days

#2 posted 11-11-2013 01:04 AM

Thanks much for posting this David. These were true heros.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3727 days

#3 posted 11-11-2013 01:15 AM

A fitting reminder of what tomorrow is all about….
A salute to all that have served.
Let us also recognize the sacrifices of those presently serving.

Thank you,
To all that have served,
To those active today….
and to those that will serve.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4355 days

#4 posted 11-11-2013 01:26 AM

God bless all of these men and their families, we can only hope that the time will never come when we have to send a group of men over to bomb another country like this mission….but, they had the heart and bravery to do what was asked of them, and then lived with it for the rest of their lives..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4393 days

#5 posted 11-11-2013 01:27 AM

thank you all that are active
or have served
or have loved ones that served or serving

we owe a great debt to all
for the freedoms we have

and a thank you to my good friend michael (littlecope)
who sent this mail to me

have a good veterans day all

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View littlecope's profile


3119 posts in 4554 days

#6 posted 11-11-2013 01:29 AM

The rest of the Story:

The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts … there was a
passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that,
on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that
emblematizes the depth of his sense of duty and devotion:
“When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home,
he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing
home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her
clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he
walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for
three years until her death in 2005.”

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

The events in Fort Walton Beach this week will mark the end. It
has come full circle; Florida’s nearby Eglin Field was where the
Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town is
planning to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration
of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.

Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save
the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their
sacrifice? They don’t talk about that, at least not around other
people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this
week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might
want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from
firsthand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are

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.

Their 70th Anniversary Portrait

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4393 days

#7 posted 11-11-2013 01:37 AM

thank you michael
i thought i had it all
then when i posted
some got lost or re-arranged somehow
glad you caught it
and added this

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View littlecope's profile


3119 posts in 4554 days

#8 posted 11-11-2013 02:02 AM

You are Welcome Sir, and Thanks to my Brother Scott for sending this along to me last night.
I got tears in my eyes reading it…
The word “Hero” gets thrown around a lot these days, these Gentlemen, are the genuine article…

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4355 days

#9 posted 11-11-2013 02:28 AM

thanks mike and your brother, and anyone who brings light to there lives and sacrifice, its a terrible shame that today’s young ones have no idea about what these men did, they ARE real men, who fought for a Real cause, I wish i could meet them, shake their hands and let them know im one american who is grateful for all that they did…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View robscastle's profile


7848 posts in 3256 days

#10 posted 11-11-2013 03:24 AM

A very fitting tribute and recognition of them all by you both on this day.

Check out this young larrikin back in his ADF days.

It was almost buried in sawdust

-- Regards Rob

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5104 days

#11 posted 11-11-2013 06:02 AM

Thank you for posting such a great tribute to Doolittle’s Raiders… a fantastic operation during the war…

There is a movie on it… which is really good…

Happy Birthday, Marines…

Let’s NOT forget what we have been through…

Have a good one…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3882 days

#12 posted 11-11-2013 10:48 AM

Thanks for sharing.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4386 days

#13 posted 11-11-2013 12:17 PM

A fitting tribute David for some very brave men. Although this is a well known story for us older folks I’m pretty sure a lot of younger people haven’t heard it before. Those airmen knew how dangerous the mission was, but still volunteered for it.

My father and 5 uncles served during WWII. One of my uncles got a bronze star and he also was one of the 2 survivors from his company in the battle of the bulge. Another uncle flew a lot of bombing missions from England as a gunner. A 3rd uncle was a seaman on a jeep carrier in the pacific which participated in almost every major sea battle in the Pacific and it so badly damaged it was nearly sunk on three different occasions. Three of my uncles were infantrymen, My dad was a medic and my youngest uncle (18) was a paratrooper. Non of these men ever talked about the war after they returned home, so I don’t have many details about what happened to them. Our family was very lucky as they all returned home alive. I’m sure almost every family in the U.S. had serving members at that time and of course many since in the frequent wars we have fought. We owe all the defenders of our nation a debt of gratitude and a whole lot of respect, whether or not we agree with the necessity of any particular conflict.

It’s amazing that LJ members from all over the world including enemies from the past and even some from the present are able to share their work and stories here and get along so well while our countries cannot. I’m not naive about international affairs, but I do find it disheartening that we still haven’t achieved a peaceful world after so much sacrifice. At least we still have this little dot of light to hang onto.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3856 days

#14 posted 11-11-2013 01:11 PM

Gr8 post, David. I for one, am, very grateful to all our Veterans. Without them, we wouldn’t have nuttin.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Rick13403's profile


271 posts in 4557 days

#15 posted 11-11-2013 01:28 PM

Hope you don’t mind, I shared this on my FB page. I ‘m afraid that the younger generation are not being taught about what makes America great. I am appalled by the lack of knowledge about American history. Before I retired, I worked with a couple of 20 somethings and their lack of knowledge and their attitude about it simply stunned me. My father served in WWII with Merrill’s Marauders in the CBI theater and I’m sure not many have heard that story even though the was a movie about them too. My father didn’t speak about the war either but did share some non battle stories later in life. I’ll close on this note, for all of you Vets out there—Thank you for your service!

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

showing 1 through 15 of 22 comments

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