The final toast for the Doolittle Raiders, via Borepatch.
The first blood that the USA drew after Pearl Harbor was the Doolittle raid. It had been a bad five months, with the Imperial Japanese forces going from victory to victory. The raid was a huge morale booster, a terrible shock to the Japanese, and the 62 men who survived the raid and the rest of the war were heroes, sought after and feted across the Republic.
In 1959, the city of Tucson presented the survivors with 80 silver goblets (one for each man in the raid) and a bottle of 1896 Hennessy VS cognac. The survivors have met each year since, but have never opened the bottle. Instead, they've been saving it for a final toast.
Today, they meet for the last time. Time has done what war could not, and only four of the fliers remain. This is their final reunion. Out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle's co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, 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.The bottle will be opened, and a toast made by those present to those accounted for.
Thanks for your service, and God speed to good patriotic men.