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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