'Doolittle Goblets' Find New Home
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, Apr. 20, 2006 Eighty silver goblets commemorating each man who flew in the "Doolittle Raid" over Japan were added to the collection of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force here yesterday.
Eighty silver goblets commemorating the "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders" were added to the collection of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, April 19. The upside goblets represent deceased Raiders. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr., USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"We are honored in the trust you place in us. We will honor and respect that trust." retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles D. Metcalf, director of the museum, told the eight raiders attending a reunion here this week on the 64th anniversary of the famous raid.
The "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders" were volunteer airmen from the U.S. Army Air Forces, the predecessor of the U.S Air Force, who on April 18, 1942, flew 16 B-25 Mitchell airplanes in an attack against Japan during World War II. Army Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle led the raid.
The goblets, which were presented to the raiders by the city of Tucson, Ariz., in 1959, have taken a highly symbolic place in the history of military aviation, U.S. Air Force officials said.
The goblets were previously housed at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo. In 1973, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, Doolittle's co-pilot during the raid on Japan, built a portable display case to transport the goblets to the raiders' annual reunions.
At every reunion the surviving Doolittle Raiders meet privately to conduct a "Goblet Ceremony." After toasting the raiders who have died since the last reunion, they turn the deceased men's goblet upside down. Each goblet has the raider's name engraved twice - so that it can be read if the goblet is right side up or upside down.
In addition, the president of Hennessy Company gave Jimmy Doolittle a bottle of 'Hennessy Very Special' cognac, vintage 1896, the year of Doolittle's birth. When there are only two raiders left, these two men will open the bottle and have a final toast to their departed comrades, Air Force officials said.
"I've been wondering who the other guy is going to be to enjoy the bottle of cognac," Cole, who officially presented the goblets to the museum, quipped during the ceremony.
The goblets will be displayed alongside a B-25 bomber at the museum, which receives more than 1 million visitors per year, museum officials said.
"Airmen have a proud heritage that we can call upon as we move forward to an unlimited horizon that is ahead of us. The Raiders are not only a part of our Air Force heritage, but they are our heroes," Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, assistant vice chief of staff and director of the Air Force Staff, said during the ceremony.
Lichte credited the Doolittle Raiders with helping turn the tide in the Pacific theater during the war. "The eventual triumph of the Allies was certainly not a given, but the raiders set us on the path to victory and on a path that we will follow for many years to come," he said.
The general said the Doolittle Raiders define what it means to be an airman, and their legacy serves as an inspiration.
"Our young airmen are inspired by the innovation of their forefathers and, of course, all these raiders," Lichte said. "We pledge to take the heritage we inherited from you and continue to protect our nation, so that you can be proud of America's next best generation."