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The Final Toast


THE FINAL TOAST
They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States .. There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation’s history. The mere mention of their unit’s name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans. 
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Now only four survive. 
After Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around. 
Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried — sending such bi g, heavy bombers from a carrier. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety. 
And those men went anyway. 
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They bombed Tokyo and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed. 
Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shan                                                          grala's The                                                          Final Toast
The Doolittle Raiders sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win. 
Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story “with supreme pride.” 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
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. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
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. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Al so 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. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death. 
As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts … there was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that was emblematic of the depth of his sense of duty and devotion: 
“When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005.” 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
So now, 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 events in Fort Walton Beach marked the end. It has come full circle; Florida’s nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town planned to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade. 
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice? They don’t talk about that, at least not around other people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from first hand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are remembered. 
The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date — some time this year — to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them. 
They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets. And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.  
Shangrala's                                                          The Final                                                          Toast
Their 70th Anniversary Photo 
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PLEASE SEND THIS ON TO EVERYONE 
IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK, ESPECIALLY 
TO THOSE WHO WERE TOO YOUNG TO 
KNOW ABOUT THESE BRAVE HEROES. 
MAY GOD BLESS THEM! 

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Win a Toast with Toby at the VFW National Convention!

Toby Keith has pledged his support to America’s veterans by teaming up with the VFW! For each case of Toby Keith’s Wild Shot Mezcal purchased by VFW Posts, Keith is donating a portion of the proceeds back to the VFW. But now, he’s sweetened the deal…
·        Beginning today, the first 70 Posts to order one case or more will receive a Wild Shot Mezcal bar top liquor dispenser.
·        Posts that order two cases or more now through June 30 will receive a Toby Keith autographed photo or poster.
·        For the next twelve months, the Post that places the highest order of Wild Shot each month will receive a Toby Keith autographed guitar.
·        The commander of the Post with the highest number of Wild Shot cases ordered now through June 30 will receive special access to a private, backstage toast with Toby Keith prior to his performance at the Patriotic Celebration at this year’s VFW National Convention.The respective Department commander will also receive an invitation to the toast.
The VFW and Wild Shot want to make your ordering process as simple as possible. Please find the Wild Shot order form and list of distributors attached here. We’ve also attached an overview of Wild Shot for your information.
If you have any questions or need assistance with your order, please reference the Wild Shot contact information provided on the order form.

Veteran Post Renovations meeting

Here is an email from Jim Bojanowski Past Erie County American Legion Commander.

I have been working with State Assemblyman Michael Kearns for the past few weeks along with many Post leaders from the southtowns on putting together a committee to obtain funds from local wealthy individuals, foundations, and Government to assist Veteran Post homes in Erie County in their upkeep and capital expenses. Areas we would like to assist with are roofs, bathrooms, electrical, parking lots, handicapped access, and potential disaster relief center setup. In other words – major capital needs for Post homes. We are talking trying to get millions of dollars, but we need to be organized in order to obtain this funding. 

 

We believe it is appropriate to reach out to all Veteran Post’s in Erie County and would like your involvement to at least help us communicate to the rest of your organization.

Dennis Fitzgerald from the John Weber Post # 898 has tried to reach out to the other VFW Post, with no success.

 

I am also working to reach out to the AMVETS County Commander. 

 

We plan on having a kickoff press conference at the Matthew Glab American Legion Post # 1477 located on 1965 Abbott Rd. in Lackawanna. This is to be held on Friday May 22 at 10:00 am, just before Memorial Day weekend.  

If you can make it to this event, Go. Let’s get the word out about this, feel free to share.

VFW Picnic

The Annual VFW Picnic this Summer has a new date. The picnic will be August 9th. American Legion Post 205 members will also be with us for their Picnic.