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World War II's Last Surviving Doolittle Raiders Make Their Final Toast 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the last-call dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "As we come up on Veteran's Day, Barrie Barber reports for the Dayton Daily News that the last Doolittle Raiders symbolically said goodbye to a decades-old tradition and to a history that changed the course of the Pacific war in World War II. Gathering from across the country together one last time, three surviving Raiders sipped from silver goblets engraved with their names and filled with 1896 Hennessy cognac in a once-private ceremony webcast to the world at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Robert E. Cole, 98, led the final toast to the 80 members of 'the Greatest Generation' who took off in 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers April 18, 1942, from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan four months after a Japanese surprise naval and air attack on Pearl Harbor. 'Gentleman, I propose a toast,' said Cole, as about 700 spectators watched one final time, 'to those we lost on the mission and those that passed away since. Thank you very much and may they rest in peace.' Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said the raid showed the courage and innovation of the World War II airmen flying from a carrier in a bomber that had never seen combat to attack a heavily defended nation and to attempt to land at unseen airfields in China in a country occupied by Japanese troops. More than 70 years after the attack, Edward J. Saylor, 93, remembered ditching at sea once he and his crew dropped their bombs and several close calls with being discovered by the Japanese Army while making his way through China. 'This may be the last time I see them together,' said the 92-year-old raider who has attended Raider reunions since 1962. 'It's a little sad for me because I've known them so long and know the story of what they did in 1942.'"
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World War II's Last Surviving Doolittle Raiders Make Their Final Toast

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:18AM (#45390373)

    May the Japanese casualties rest in peace as well.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:35AM (#45390439)
      Such sympathy does not apply to the side that starts a war and loses. Food for thought, when America remembers all the wars it has started and lost.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Chill, dude, WWII is over. Quit holding a grudge.

      • by Drethon (1445051) on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:47AM (#45390521)
        IMHO such sympathy does not apply to the leaders who started the war but the innocent casualties still have my sympathies.

        Not so sure about those who blindly followed those leaders without thought or due to political brainwashing and my brain isn't working well enough on a Monday morning to get that deep into philosophy...
        • by jythie (914043) on Monday November 11, 2013 @11:56AM (#45391565)
          Given how easy it is to get normally good people to do terrible things with a surprisingly small amount of peer pressure, I am comfortable extending sympathies even to those who one might call 'brainwashed'. While we like to think of ourselves as strong, it has been shown a disturbing number of times just how easy it is tweak someone into such behavior.
          • by Drethon (1445051) on Monday November 11, 2013 @12:18PM (#45391779)
            You make an excellent point. Reminds me of the experiments where a person was made to think they were executing someone in the name of science. While a part of me keeps saying the brainwashed are weak, I need to remember I'm probably not any stronger and am deluding myself to think otherwise.
            • Executing? Perhaps you meant electrocuting (shocking) for science, as per this: Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures [wikipedia.org].
              A fascinating read, and yeah it has creepy implications about what people can do. Something everybody should know about.
              Excerpt: The experiment... measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience

              You make an excellent point. Reminds me of the experiments where a person was made to think they were executing someone in the name of science. While a part of me keeps saying the brainwashed are weak, I need to remember I'm probably not any stronger and am deluding myself to think otherwise.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Falconhell (1289630)

        Sympathy applies for all war casualties, there is no more stupid waste of life.

      • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:05AM (#45390619)

        I don't agree. For all that I've no use for people who don't realize that, unlike many recent ventures, the US fought WWII for very good reasons, and probably saved millions of lives by doing so, I'm not completely averse to the Japanese remembering their civilians lost in the war. Personally I have little use for Japanese sanctimony about the use of the A-bombs, but commemorating the dead is another matter. Even remembering, if not commemorating, their rank-and-file war dead, while a touchy subject, doesn't seem completely unreasonable to me. Many of the rank-and-file had little choice but to "serve".

    • by shikaisi (1816846) on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:44AM (#45390509)

      More to the point, what about the Chinese casualties? The often ignored result of the raid was that the Japanese, in reprisals against any family, village or town that they thought might have helped the escaping Doolittle raiders, murdered about 250,000 men, women and children. That number is not a typo. It is not a mistake or an exaggeration. Two hundred and fifty thousand Chinese were slaughtered by the Imperial Japanese Army during the search for Doolittle's men.

      Now please remind me again why I should care about the Japanese casualties.

      • by jalopezp (2622345) on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:54AM (#45390553)
        Dead citizens in Tokyo were for certain not involved in massacring the Chinese. Why should you care about Japanese casualties? For the same reason you care about anyone that dies needlessly in a war.
        • by GTRacer (234395)
          I really don't like the inability to confirm a mod-choice. I'm sorry, jalopezp, that was supposed to be Insightful.
        • by drnb (2434720)

          Dead citizens in Tokyo were for certain not involved in massacring the Chinese.

          The Doolittle Raid attacked a small number of specific military targets, they were not carpet bombing a city. The raid was largely symbolic for the US and psychological for the Japanese, it did very little damage. If you are a civilian working at a war munitions factory in Imperial Japan you *are* involved in the massacre of the Chinese civilians.

        • by westlake (615356)

          Dead citizens in Tokyo were for certain not involved in massacring the Chinese

          But the mass killing of Chinese civilians did not begin with the Doolittle Raid or even the Rape of Nanking. Nanking Massacre. [wikipedia.org] Events which to this day the Japanese government has never been willing to deal with honestly.

      • You make an excellent point. I would be interested in a cite about the number of Chinese killed, not because I doubt you, but out of historical interest. We should also remember that the Chinese provided great support and assistance to the survivors of the Doolittle raid.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JoelWink (1846354)
          The Nanking Massacre (AKA "Rape of Nanking") is just one example of the atrocities committed by Japan. From the late 19th century through WWII the Japanese goverment was extremely militaristic and hell bent on expanding their empire by any means necessary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre [wikipedia.org]
          • China's aggressive govt is looking a lot like Japan's aggressiveness 90 years earlier...
            • I'd dispute that. Though they're no doubt capable of inflicting massive damage, the Chinese military does not have the overconfidence borne of defeating a major power in war, like the Japanese had against Russia.

              • by Rick Zeman (15628)

                I'd dispute that. Though they're no doubt capable of inflicting massive damage, the Chinese military does not have the overconfidence borne of defeating a major power in war, like the Japanese had against Russia.

                Exactly. Being that you know something of early-mid 20th century history, are you allowed to participate in this thread?

        • by shikaisi (1816846) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:48AM (#45390979)

          I would be interested in a cite about the number of Chinese killed.

          "The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid—America's First World War II Victory" by Craig NELSON. London: Penguin Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-14-200341-1. See pages 226-228.

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        Most people are victims of circumstance. Very few people are inherently "evil". The deaths shall be mourned. Sentient beings should be not fighting each other.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ebno-10db (1459097)

      May the Japanese casualties rest in peace as well.

      Quoting the PP not because I agree with him, but because moderating him to -1 is censorship. That's ironic considering that one of the freedoms veterans fought to defend is freedom of speech. Don't bother me with "Slashdot is a privately owned forum, it's not the government censoring it", blah, blah, blah. This case isn't going to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, modding down somebody who made a controversial, but not needlessly inflammatory or insulting remark, is stifling debate. That isn't how things are

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        You are coming to the posting early. As the thread matures, other folks will come along and mod him (or her) up. That's how it works with a system of unpaid moderators. You'll get the folks who will mod him down and others who'll mod him right back up. Eventually it'll balance out and the more thoughtful will have moderated him to +5 Insightful.

        [John]

  • by Drethon (1445051) on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:29AM (#45390407)
    ...
  • Thank You Veterans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:33AM (#45390423)

    On this Veterans Day, I would like to thank all veterans for serving our country for protecting our freedoms and way of life.
    Without these brave men and women, we would not be the mightiest, richest, most powerful nation on Earth.
    God Bless America.

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      Unfortunately, our thanks hasn't much of a material side: If you're a librarian or a mail carrier or a DMV clerk you have today off, but if you're only a veteran you have to go to work.

  • Doolittle's raid had little/no actual strategic value.

    The price tag was..... I have read estimates that between 300 thousand to 1 million Chinese paid the ultimate price for getting the crews out.

    Not taking away from the valor of the crew. They deserve our undying respect.

    But, the price paid for it..... I wonder.

    willy

    • by Drethon (1445051) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:04AM (#45390605)
      The short of it is the Doolittle raid led to the battle of Midway which is considered a major turning point of the war.

      http://www.angelo.edu/content/news/1466-doolittle-raid-remembered-for-impact [angelo.edu]
      • by smpoole7 (1467717)

        You beat me to it (my more long-winded post can be found below), but precisely. PRECISELY. The Japanese military knew that the raid was just that -- a raid, and no more -- but they still felt compelled to respond. And Yamamoto won his argument for Midway as a DIRECT result of that raid.

        • by Drethon (1445051)
          Yeah, with all due respect to willy everlearn (I suspect most people here are intelligent most of the time, I know I'm not some times), I wish people would back up potentially inflamitory statements. It tends to sent off my I know I read otherwise flag and my must reeducate style rants :)
          • by smpoole7 (1467717)

            > It tends to sent off my I know I read otherwise flag and my must reeducate style rants :)

            Hah. Me as well. :)

            Actually, if we're honoring heroes, here's one bunch that rarely gets a mention nowadays: the submariners who served in the Allied Navies in WWII. I'm going from memory, but at the end of the war, Nimitz chose to do his change-of-command ceremony on the deck of a submarine. He wanted to honor the fact that (here's the memory part, don't hold me to this) something like only ONE IN TEN (or was it

    • by Deadstick (535032) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:18AM (#45390703)

      What Drethon said. The Doolittle raid was a major embarrassment to the Japanese military, and it became clear that any repetition would be followed by rolling heads. As a result, some major naval assets were pulled back into home-waters defense, and that contributed a lot to the outcome at Midway.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:19AM (#45390705)

      Doolittle's raid had little/no actual strategic value.

      The price tag was..... I have read estimates that between 300 thousand to 1 million Chinese paid the ultimate price for getting the crews out.

      Not taking away from the valor of the crew. They deserve our undying respect.

      But, the price paid for it..... I wonder.

      willy

      WRONG

      The Japanese response to the Doolittle raid was to attempt to seize Midway Island and the ensuing Battle of Midway [wikipedia.org]

      The Battle of Midway ( Middow Kaisen?) in the Pacific Theater of Operations was one of the most important naval battles of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, only six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the United States Navy decisively defeated an Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) attack on Midway Atoll, inflicting irreparable damage on the Japanese fleet Military historian John Keegan called it "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare." It was Japan's worst naval defeat in 350 years.

      The Japanese operation, like the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor, sought to eliminate the United States as a strategic power in the Pacific, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese hoped that another demoralizing defeat would force the U.S. to capitulate in the Pacific War and thus ensure Japanese dominance in the Pacific.

      The Japanese plan was to lure the United States' aircraft carriers into a trap. The Japanese also intended to occupy Midway as part of an overall plan to extend their defensive perimeter in response to the Doolittle air raid on Tokyo. This operation was also considered preparatory for further attacks against Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii itself. ....

    • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:23AM (#45390735) Homepage

      > Doolittle's raid had little/no actual strategic value.

      I may be a little older than you, but I'm surprised at the number of people nowadays who don't know what actually happened in WWII. It has been over half a century now, so at most it gets a chapter in the history books, highly condensed. I had the great pleasure of reading (among other things) Admiral Nimitz's history of that war, very detailed, with a look at every decision -- juggling horribly short assets against needs everywhere.

      In fact, the Doolittle Raid had a significant strategic impact -- it caused the Japanese to redistribute their forces. In particular, they strongly weakened their carrier forces in the Indian Ocean. It also strengthened Yamamoto's position in favor of the Battle of Midway, which was the turning point of the entire Pacific war. (Some revisionist historians now want to argue with that, but their heads are filled with revisionist cheese. Losing several aircraft carriers in a single battle meant that Japan would never again be able to take the initiative.) :)

      I hate war. As Sherman said, "War is hell." But if you attack me, or threaten those I love, I'm a typical American: I gitterdone, the entire time wishing that you'd just kept your mind right and left me alone. I'm not saying that everyone feels that way, but I am typical.

      Only those who've seen the suffering can begin to imagine how awful war is. My Veteran's Day story comes from Sandy's grandfather, who was in a foxhole in St. Vith when the Germans kicked off the Battle of the Bulge. In my eyes, he was a freakin' hero, and I begged him to talk about it.

      All he would say was, "I lost a lot of friends that day." Nothing more. I felt ashamed for bringing it up, and we changed the topic.

      Yes, you can argue about Korea, Vietnam, et. al. But go back and read histories written by Nimitz and others who were there. No, there wasn't a great deal of fear that Germany or Japan could actually occupy the United States, but there was still a very real possibility that Japan and Germany would win. We've gotten cocky nowadays, but back then, what with bad torpedoes, ossified admirals who didn't want to use that "newfangled" radar, planes that couldn't keep up with the Mitsubishi Zero, it was anything but a guaranteed thing.

      As for the results of an Axis victory, I suggest a good dose of Turtledove or other alternative history. It wouldn't have been pretty. At all.

      • by T.E.D. (34228) on Monday November 11, 2013 @12:44PM (#45392043)

        We've gotten cocky nowadays, but back then, what with bad torpedoes, ossified admirals who didn't want to use that "newfangled" radar, planes that couldn't keep up with the Mitsubishi Zero, it was anything but a guaranteed thing.

        Can't emphasise this part enough. If you know nothing else about WWII in the Pacific, a person should really acquaint themselves with the Battle of Midway [wikipedia.org].

        We had some advantages, and some disadvantages. But without incredible sheer luck, and the willing essentially suicidal sacrifices of the men of Torpedo Squadron 8 [wikipedia.org], things would have turned out completely differently. If the same strokes of luck had happened for the Japanese instead of for the US, the balance of our entire carrier force would have been wiped out (which was what the Japanese plan was when they forced that action in the first place). Had that happened, at best it would have been years before we could have built enough replacements to make it a war again.

        BTW: Of Torpedo Squadron 8, only one man (and none of the planes) survived their runs. Their planes were hopelessly obsolete, and scored no hits on either their carrier targets or enemy planes. However, their pitiful attacks drew the air cover down at just the moment other squadrons of US dive-bombers arrived on the scene from high altitude, and oddly found the skies up there uncontested...

        • by smpoole7 (1467717)

          > But without incredible sheer luck ...

          Yep. Part of that "sheer luck" thing was catching the Japanese carriers while they were refueling the planes. Our terrible planes and ordinance wouldn't have done nearly as much damage otherwise.

      • South Korea was an unambiguous invasion. The people of the South supported and fought along side us. The fighting was authorized by the United Nations. The Korean War was not controversial like Vietnam, it is merely "forgotten".

        Regarding the attitude of getting it done while wishing the enemy had left my country and its friends alone, that characterizes the WW2 vets I grew up around very well. Other than SS troops, which they view as political and part of the problem, the recognized the necessity of it b
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:22AM (#45390729)

    . . . without everyone making a international political fuss about it? War is terrible for all . . . and these lucky few just want to celebrate that they managed to get their hairy asses out of that shit alive.

    Leave 'em alone.

    • Kind of hard to leave 'em alone when they've got webcams on commemorating (not celebrating) soldier's sacrifice at their last get-together for all the world to see, eh?

      Many Japanese were glad when news of surrender came and the war was finally over for them too. Not all their civilians were war mongers. I agree: War is hell for all involved, but for some it's more hellish than for others. [youtube.com]

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