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World War II Doolittle Raiders Make Final Toast
WPAFB -- It's been more than 70 years since the Doolittle Tokyo Raid, a top secret mission during World War II where Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led 80 men to bomb Japan on April 18, 1942.
Today, just four of the men survive.
The Doolittle Raiders were at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Saturday night for a memorable reunion.
Streaming live online from Wright-Patt Air Force Base, the world had the chance to see this historic reunion.
At each of their past reunions, the 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. Tonight's toast was the group's last.
"Gentlemen, I propose a toast to those who lost their lives on the mission and those who have fallen away since," said Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, who served as a co-pilot.
Hundreds showed their support at the toast and hundreds more lined the museum's entrance as the heroes arrived at the museum. They honored the men with a wreath-laying ceremony and with a B-25 aircraft flying over, and the men were honored to be here.
"I feel some sort of obligation if people want to hear about it I'll talk about it and it sounds like they want to hear about it because I get plenty of opportunities," said Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, who served as an engineer-gunner.
The Doolittle Raid was an extremely important event in the development of American air power because it marked the first combat use of strategic bombardment by the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II.
"We were on our way and they didn't know it so we got there and started dropping our bombs before they really knew what was happening," said Saylor.
"I didn't get shot down, I didn't get injured," said Cole.
While the attack itself caused little damage to Japanese war industry, it was the psychological impact on the Japanese military and the American public that made the attack memorable.
"We were in bad shape. The United States was extremely low after Pearl Harbor," said historian Carroll Glines.
Lawmakers have introduced a bill asking to award a Congressional gold medal in honor of the members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Those for the bill are hoping to get it passed while the four remaining members are alive. The bill is currently in committee.
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