Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders’ Final Toast
COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Seventy-one years after 80 Americans made history, three are making a little more.
There are four surviving members of Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders. Three of the men were in attendance at Saturday night’s “Final Toast.”
The toast is a yearly event to commemorate the dangerous mission in 1942 that bombed Tokyo and other industrial Japanese cities. It was only four months after Pearl Harbor and it was America’s first victory.
Retired Lt. Colonel Richard Cole, of Dayton, was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot and the first plane over Japan.
“The raid was designed to let the Japanese people know that their leaders were not truthful with them by saying that their island is invulnerable” Cole said.
Everything these men did was nearly impossible for the time. They only had enough fuel for the flight there and they had to fly at treetop level to avoid detection.
“We were flying about 50 feet and the people were waving at us and were flying so low I could see the expressions on their faces. They were cheering” says David Thatcher, a crew member of the “Ruptured Duck” which was highlighted in the movie “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”
On Saturday night, with an 1896 bottle of cognac presented to Jimmy Doolittle, the survivors had their last toast.
Doolittle instructed them to share it when they were down to the final survivors.
“Gentlemen I propose a toast for those who were lost on the mission,” and those who passed away since, thank you very much and may rest in peace.” said Cole, raising a goblet to the crew.