On April 18, 1942 Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle led a daring raid on the Empire of Japan.
Doolittle led 16 B-25 bombers off the flight deck of the carrier USS Hornet on the raid called "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo."
The B-25'a are waiting on the flight deck of the USS Hornet.
The first B-25 takes off from the USS Hornet with Doolittle and Cole at the controls.
There were 80 of the Raiders (16 five-man crews) in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation's history.
The Raiders’ mission caused very little strategic damage to the country, but it proved to the Empire of Japan that they were vulnerable to an attack, and it raised American morale considerably.
The Raiders were all volunteers and are an important part of American history and legacy.
Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes.
Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission.
The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona, as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.
Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.
In the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.
Over the years, the Raider’s reunions have been in various cities and the public has always been allowed to attend.
Last April the surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.
Now only three of the 80 Raiders remain. Pictured above left to right: Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Edward Saylor and David Thatcher.
All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.
Now peacefully moored at historic Alameda Point on San Francisco Bay, the USS Hornet is a timeless memorial to those who defended our American values.
- ...hat tip to Ed Nies