We recently read about the final reunion of the Doolittle Raiders who were celebrating the 71st anniversary of their attack on Japan. The Doolittle Raiders were 80 brave men who launched an attack on mainland Japan from an aircraft carrier in retaliation for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Not only did these brave men lift the spirit of a nation recovering from Pearl Harbor, they managed to survive a virtual suicide mission. Launching from an aircraft carrier, they bombed Japan and landed in China (and one in the Soviet Union), which was controlled by the Japanese. Miraculously, only three died but a number more were taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese. The remaining members escaped with the help of the local Chinese, who paid dearly for their assistance. The surviving Doolittle Raiders continued to serve their country and were deployed on missions around the world.
Each year since the 1940s, the remaining Doolittle Raiders have held a reunion. Since 1960, the Raiders have been accompanied by 80 goblets inscribed with the name of each Doolittle Raider and a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Cognac, which marks the year of their fearless leader, Jimmy Doolittle’s birth! Each year, the Raiders toast and turn the goblet of their fallen comrades, whose name is also inscribed upside right. When two remain, they will toast with the bottle of Hennessy.
There are four Raiders left, and they are all in their 90’s. The eldest at 97 is still piloting B-25s on occasion. Three are at the reunion and one is not in good enough health to attend. These remaining Raiders have decided that this is their final reunion. They have returned to Elgin Air Force Base where they trained for the raid on Tokyo. They have also decided that this year, the three will toast with the 1896 Hennessey!