When three of the four surviving members of the Tokyo Doolittle Raiders gather for a final toast Nov. 9, the once secretive ceremony at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will be broadcast for the first time, a spokesman said Friday.
“The Raiders normally have a solemn, private ceremony,” but public interest in the final toast led to broadcast the event via a Webcast, said museum spokesman Rob Bardua.
The event will be telecast 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 on the Pentagon Channel and live streamed at www.af.mil and on the museum’s website at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil, the spokesman said.
The Army Air Corps airmen aboard 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers attacked Japan on April 18, 1942, after a daring take-off from the deck of the USS Hornet. The raid was led by then Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. Eighty silver goblets bear the name of one crewman who were in the raid. The three surviving airmen expected to attend are: Richard E. Cole, 98, a Dayton native now living in Comfort, Texas, who was Doolittle’s co-pilot; Edward J. Saylor, 93, of Puyallup, Wash., and David J. Thatcher, 92, of Missoula, Mont. Robert L. Hite, 93, of Nashville, Tenn., will not attend for health reasons, Bardua said.
In past Raider reunions, surviving crewmen toast those who had died since their last meeting, and turn upside down the goblets of those who were deceased.
The toast will cap a day of events and mark the Raiders return to the museum since April 18, 2012, when they commemorated the 70th anniversary of the raid.
Flag waving spectators will greet the Raiders at a 1:15 p.m. “Grand Arrival” along the museum’s driveway. The museum has asked Miami Valley residents to arrive by 1 p.m. for the greeting line. Six B-25s, flown from Maryland, Michigan, New York, Texas and Ohio, will fly over after a 2 p.m. wreath-laying memorial ceremony at which Cole will speak, Bardua said. The outdoor events are weather permitting, the museum said.
Museum visitors may participate in the public events, but the final toast is an invitation-only gathering, Bardua said.