The Final Toast

Written by: Robert L. Hinshaw

At dawn on April 8, 1942, 16 B-25's flew from the USS Hornet's deck.
Eighty brave men led by Lt Colonel Doolittle began their historic trek.
A boost in national morale was sorely needed for the war-weary nation,
And these young men, volunteers all, knew Tokyo was their destination!

Damage was slight, but for other valiant deeds, they surely paved the way.
Heroes were made that day, some died, but most lived to fly another day.
They were lauded by the nation and each awarded a well-deserved decoration!
He felt he'd failed, but Doolittle was given the Medal of Honor in appreciation!

After the war, the survivors met periodically and established a great tradition.
Eighty silver goblets were made, one for each man for his proper recognition.
At their reunions, toasts were made to those who had made that final flight.
Their goblets were then turned upside down to commemorate each noble knight!

Alas, as of November 2013, only four survivors remain from that courageous crew:

                                       Lt Colonel Richard E. Cole
                                       Lt Colonel Robert L. Hite
                                       Lt Colonel Edward J. Saylor
                                       SSGT David J. Thatcher

Old men now, they felt they should make that final toast since they are now so few.
They'll raise their goblets on November 9, 2013, a tradition with a pensive ending.
Who, I sadly muse, among those four gallant heroes, will be the last man standing?

Robert L. Hinshaw, CMSgt, USAF, Retired
(c) All Rights Reserved

I was honored during my Air Force career to have at one time as my commander, Colonel 
Herbert Macia, a Doolittle Raider and navigator on plane No. 40-2297.