Doolittle Raiders’ Final Toast
As three of the four surviving Doolittle Raiders and company appeared at their last public event and lifted silver goblets in the final toast to their fallen friends, Columbians joined in the somber historic moment.
The Raiders’ event took place November 9 at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Here in Columbia the EAA 242 Flying Club, along with members and guests of the South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation (SCHAF), participated in the event and ceremony by real-time video connection.
At the appropriate time, Martin Crouch, son of one of South Carolina’s three Raiders (all deceased) Horace “Sally” Crouch, led the local toast. Aviators and guests joined in the tribute being made in Dayton, lifting goblets here in tribute to those 80 men whose courage altered the course of events unfolding in the Pacific. Their successful mission paved the way for the hard fought WWII victory.
The Raiders legendary 1942 mission began with their selection and first training at the WWII Columbia Army Air Base (now the location of Columbia Metro Airport.)
Sixty-seven years ago, the Doolittle Raiders gathered in Miami, Florida, for the first reunion of their famous raid on Tokyo. They agreed they would get together every year until there were only two left, and those two men would open the bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special Cognac and drink a toast to their fellow Raiders who had all “gone west.” Doolittle had been born in 1896.
The four who remain (only three were able to attend the toast in Dayton) decided to change Colonel Doolittle’s charge slightly, concerned that by next year there might not be two remaining who would be able to get together.
In all the previous years when toasts were made, the somber ceremony was a private affair, but for the final toast, the surviving Raiders opted to share this historic moment with the nation they served. Modern technology allowed them to be joined world-wide via a simulcast.
Since the Raiders volunteered at Columbia Army Air Base for their historic mission, locals deemed it appropriate to join them—virtually— under the wing of SCHAF’s Columbia Army Air Base B- 25 bomber, hangared at the Hamilton-Owens Airport. The B-25 was the aircraft flown in the historic Tokyo Raid.
A contingent of the Raiders returned to Columbia Army Air Base a few weeks after their 1942 mission, and, decades later, chose Columbia for the location of their reunions in 1992, 2002, and 2009.
For information on SCHAF, go to www.schistoricaviation.org.