November 14, 2013
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — When the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’ make a final toast to their fallen comrades on Nov. 9 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the world can witness the historical moment.
Although the final toast ceremony is not open to the public, a LIVE feed of the event will be broadcast on The Pentagon Channel at 6 p.m. EST. A link to the LIVE stream will also be available on the day of the event at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil and www.af.mil.
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. Led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, these men came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
Today, just four of the men survive: Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, co-pilot of Crew No. 1; Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, co-pilot of Crew No. 16; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, engineer-gunner of Crew No. 15; and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, engineer-gunner of Crew No. 7. At this time, Cole, Saylor and Thatcher plan to participate on-site and Hite hopes to watch the ceremony from his residence due to health concerns.
In 1959 the city of Tucson, Ariz., presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of silver goblets, each bearing the name of one of the 80 men who flew on the mission. At each of their past reunions, the surviving Raiders would conduct their solemn “Goblet Ceremony.” After toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, they would then turn the deceased men’s goblets upside down. The Nov. 9 event will mark their final toast.
In addition to the LIVE feed of the final toast, the public also will have an opportunity to celebrate these World War II aviation heroes throughout the day.
Those wishing to honor the Raiders are invited to line the museum’s entrance drive as they arrive at the museum. Visitors are encouraged to bring American flags and signs to show their support. Large crowds are expected, so visitors are urged to arrive early in the day to avoid traffic congestion and plan to be in place by 1 p.m. For addition information on the grand arrival, please visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=21111.
At 2 p.m. a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Doolittle Raiders memorial in Memorial Park, followed by a flyover of B-25 aircraft.
The B-25 Mitchell Bombers will begin to arrive at the Grimes Field Airport in Urbana, on Nov. 8, and rides will be available for purchase. Additional information is available at www.champaignaviationmuseum.org/#!b-25-fly-over-nov-9/cjj5.
The Air Force Museum Theatre is planning to show Doolittle Raider and World War II-themed movies throughout the weekend. The schedule is as follows:
“The Restorers: They Were All Volunteers” (48 minutes) will be shown at noon from Nov. 8-11. This episode follows a B-25 Mitchell bomber from Minnesota as her crew participates in the 68th Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion / B-25 Gathering in Dayton, Ohio. Cost is $5 per person.
“Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” (144 minutes) will be shown at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 9. This 1944 American war film is based on the true story of the Doolittle Raid. Admission is free, but the theatre will accept donations to help cover the cost.
“Air Aces: Gabby Gabreski” (45 minutes) will be shown at 3 p.m. on Nov. 9 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 10. Against the backdrop of World War II, American pilots, including Air Force pilot Francis “Gabby” Gabreski, race to shoot down the most German planes and be crowned the country’s top-flying ace. Cost is $5 per person.
“Honor Flight” (86 minutes) will be shown at 3:20 p.m. on Nov. 10. This heartwarming documentary is about four living World War II veterans and a Midwest community that comes together to give them the trip of a lifetime. Cost is $8 for adults, $7 for military and seniors, and $6 for members and children, ages 3-12.
Author Stan Cohen will sign his book “Destination Tokyo” in the museum store throughout the day on Nov. 9. That book, as well as several others related to the Doolittle Raid, and a limited quantity of the medallion and goblet created to commemorate the Final Toast will be available for purchase in the store.
More details about events associated with the final toast are available at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/doolittle.asp.
Story by Rob Bardua, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force