Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Final Toast-- Part 2

This past Saturday, November 9th, Liz and I watched the proceedings on a live stream from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB, northeast of Dayton, Ohio. This was major history in my book. Early on, we saw a video featuring past Doolittle Reunions. It was sad to see fewer and fewer attendees, especially in the last ten years. Just four remain now.

Then there were a lot of speeches. I was surprised that the president was not there. Then they had a roll call by plane. The names of each five-man crew was called off and the three in attendance answered with "Here" when their name was called. Somewhere at home, I'm sure Col. Hite did the same (he was unable to attend due to health). Relatives of "Those Who Have Passed On" stood when their name was called.

I particularly enjoyed the talk about the first reunion in 1946 which must have been quite a party with all sorts of antics keeping guests at the Miami hotel up to the wee hours and a "Raid" on the hotel pool. Col. Doolittle paid $2,000 for it, but said that in the future, the Raiders had to pay their own way.

Then we heard the history of the toast and the bottle of 1894 Hennessy cognac given to Doolittle in the 1950s with the 1894 being his birthday. I always thought the bottle in the goblet case was the original, but it wasn't. The very original one disappeared while at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The replacement bottle was always kept at the homes of various Raiders, so this was the first time the public had ever seen the original, well replacenment.

Col. Cole, Doolittle's co-pilot, had some difficulty opening the bottle, but once done, the toast was made. Liz and I toasted right along with the Raiders, I with a shot of Rebel Yell and Liz with a Rumchata.

Like I Say, "The Greatest Generation." -- GreGen

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