Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Toast to Doolittle

The photos are of planes (Prince and Puppy are not around to tell me what kind) that are displayed on the grounds where the USS Alabama is docked in Mobile Alabama. The other photo I copied from Google of Jimmy Doolittle. 
Just a wee bit of history. When Japan stuck terror in the heart of America with the Pearl Harbor attack, how were we to respond?It was left to 80 men, Doolittle's Raiders in April 1942 to strike back. These daring and selfless men undertook a mission that has not ever been duplicated. First big heavy bombers had never taken off from a carrier before. Sixteen B-25s with a five crew men each were to take off from a carrier with Lt. Col James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, and they all knew that they would not be able to return to the ship. The hope was to hit Japan and then try to safely land in nearby China. 
The really bad news, was that the Japanese got wind of the plan therefore they had to take off farther out in the Pacific Ocean. Thus, they would not have enough fuel to get to safety. They still took off. 
They bomb Tokyo and then flew as far away as possible. Four planes crashed, 11 crew men bailed out, three died, eight were taken captive, three were executed and one died of starvation in a prison. One crew made it to Russia. 
Only 62 survived the war. A movie, "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," with Van Johnson and Spencer Tracy was produced about the bravery of Doolittle Raiders. MGM proclaimed that the movie represented the story  "with supreme pride."
Beginning in April of 1946 the survivors started a traditional that each year they would meet in a different city. When they met in Tucson in 1959 the city in a gesture of respect and gratitude gave them 80 silver goblets each with a name of a Raider engraved upon the goblet. Every year thereafter, a wooden display case bearing the 80 silver goblets was transported to the reunion city. Those Raiders who were no longer with them, their goblet was placed upside down. In that same case was a unopened 1896 (the year of Doolittle's birth) bottle of Hennessy Very Special Cognac.  The plan was when there were only two raiders left they would open the bottle and toast their comrades. 
The plan would change in April 2013  because one of the five , Tom Griffin passed away at age 96 in February 2013. Thus, at the April reunion in Ft. Walton, Florida only  Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot) Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thacther remain and they decided to meet later this year to get together one more time very informally and in absolute privacy open the bottle  fill their silver goblets and raise them in a toast to those who have gone. All of these men are in their nineties.  
I do not know if the four Raiders are still with us or if they have opened the bottle yet but wanted to share the toast with them in this blog. 
All of the information was sent to me in an E mail with the request to forward it but I could not resist putting it on my blog.     


Small City Scenes said...

Excellent story! I hope the men will meet up and open the bottle. You know when we were very young we thought we would live forever and never get old.
Here's a toast to those brave men! MB

Lee said...

Absolutely wonderful! How awesome those aircraft are. A shiver, perhaps more like a quiver, goes up my spine.

Great story, Lady Di. :)

Jackie said...

The sacrifice and service of our men always tugs at a special place in my heart.
Then...I see photos this week of people (thugs) here in the USA burning an American flag in protest over a jury verdict. Makes me sick to my stomach.
These men that you posted about have my utmost admiration and respect.
Thank you for sharing this...

Changes in the wind said...

There are so many like these whose story never gets told.

Lady Di Tn said...

Yes I hope they did too and enjoyed every drop. Yep I know the feeling. I thought when I was young that old was 35 and when it came and went many moons ago I figured I had worried about getting old at 35 for nothing. Peace

Thank you. I wish more stories of those brave young men were told. I think each one deserves a statue in their home town. Peace

Glad you enjoyed the story of such brave men. Yes it was a very sad time here to see such actions by our THUG society.One of my friends on Facebook posted some comments made by this animal society of what they wanted to be done. I was horrified and hope that they were only pontificating but that too made my heart weep because it shows how degraded people in our great country have become. Maybe those people should be put in planes with not enough gas to return. Mother always said if you say it you cannot take it back so try not to utter or write anything you will regret. Okay I will get off my soapbox. Have a wonderful weekend dear friend. Peace

Yes and I feel we should honor them in some way so I proposed the toast to them. Peace

Debra Lane said...

Great blog post, and awesome photos!