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Monday, November 11, 2013

A Final Toast

B-25J and Texans taxi out April 20th, 2013 for Doolittle fly-by. Destin, FL
This weekend up at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, three of the four surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered for one final somber and sad mission.  Robert Hite, the other surviving Raider, was too ill to attend this gathering.  So Ed Saylor, Richard Cole - Doolittle's co-pilot, and David Thatcher gathered at the museum to break open the 1896 bottle of cognac to salute their departed comrades.  Why 1898?  That was the year Jimmy Doolittle was born.  With this solemn action, another chapter of valour closes.

I was so fortunate to see Saylor, Cole, and Thatcher at the 71st Reunion earlier this year.  To shake their hands and say thank you.  Thank you again Raiders for lifting American spirits when it seemed the future was so bleak.

Previous posts:
Army Pilots Man Your Planes!
A Good Shepherd
60+ Years
Doolittle Flyby
Florida Nose Art

12 comments:

DrC said...

I once met Paul Tiibbets and got to shake his hand. Sadly opportunities to meet and thank great Americans like these men are rapidly disappearing. Thanks for helping to keep the memories alive.

dmurray said...

I have been to Wright Patterson and tried to take in all three museum hangars in one day. It deserved a week. The planes outside were also worthwhile.

Thanks for the post and for linking from Ace's comments.

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Anonymous said...

Morning Anna, miss your posts over here although I do love your "value added" over at Ace.

On this date back in 1998 my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was gone less than a year later. He was a veteran of B-17s and B-24s (Navigator, unless of course someone else got killed then he might need to be radio operator, waist gunner etc). Thinking about my dad's service, I was drawn here.

It's amazing any of these men were able to function after seeing such horror. Are you familiar with Randall Harrell, USAAC veteran and poet? His short 5-liner titled "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" summarized my dad's memories of WWII...

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.


My dad being over 6' tall excluded him from ball turret duty but he did witness the same things as Jarrell. Also used this poem to convince his young son of the realities of combat as opposed to the fantasies spun by armed forces recruiters.

God bless every last one of those men who served and thanks for your writing.

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