And Then There Were Four

Major Thomas Griffin, a navigator on the Doolittle Raid was called home Tuesday. He passed in a VA home in northern Kentucky at age 96. At the next reunion of the surviving Doolittle Raiders in Fort Walton Beach, where they trained for the mission, they will turn Maj. Griffin’s goblet upside down, and there will  be only four left upright.

Maj. Griffin’s parachuted to safety over China and eluded capture, eventually making it back stateside. He later flew bombing missions over North Africa until he was shot down in 1943, spending the remainder of the war in a German POW camp.

Years ago the President of Hennessy Company presented a bottle of 1896 vintage “Very Special Hennessy” cognac to General Jimmy Doolittle, in honor of his birth year and it was decided that the last two survivors would toast the fallen with it. Due to their advanced age it was decided that they would make the toast this year, before there were none left.

The private ceremony will be attended only by the surviving Raiders, the Raiders’ historian, Tom Casey, manager of the Doolittle Raiders Association, and two Air Force cadets. They will conduct a roll call of the names of all the Raiders, and when Griffin’s name is called, Lt. Col. Richard Cole, at age 97 the oldest survivor, will give a report on Griffin, announcing that he has left us.

At the end of the reading of names, the white-gloved cadets will pour the cognac into the goblets of the survivors, and they will drink their special toast: “To those who have gone.”

The final four survivors are Lt. Col. Cole of Comfort, Texas; Lt. Col. Robert Hite of Nashville, Tennessee; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor of Puyallup, Washington, and Master Sgt. David Thatcher of Missoula, Montana.

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Jaybear, Colonel of Imperial Ancient Artillery
Jaybear, Colonel of Imperial Ancient Artillery

just breaks my heart to see all those goblets turned upside down like that. My God what a legacy we are losing

Wow! What a legacy they left us! I can only hope that the troopies that I brought up can live up to the legacy they left us. I stand in awe of their achievements!

Azygos
Azygos

wow crunch I can’t quite finish reading the post because there is a sudden gust of dust in the room.

SoCalOilMan, K.o.E.
SoCalOilMan, K.o.E.

Such heroes, To do what was thought to be impossible to achieve what they knew was only a psychological attack. They turned the war, letting Japan know they weren’t invulnerable, and that the US would strike at them no matter what.

Slightly to the right of Gingis Khan
Slightly to the right of Gingis Khan

Men willing to risk their lives to spit in the eye of our enemies. I stand in awe of their bravery and will. I will be toasting them as well.

LC&IB Vulcanrider, MSgt, USAF, Ret
LC&IB Vulcanrider, MSgt, USAF, Ret

I’ve had the rare opportunity to meet some of these gentlemen a couple of time being that I’m in the Ft Walton Beach area, and to a man they are humble and refuse to take credit for the special thing they did. “It was our job, we were hand picked, that’s what we did” is the theme, they refuse to… Read more »

LC Draco
LC Draco

They basically KNEW it was a suicide mission, but went anyway.

Changed the Pacific war in one flight.

LC FORGER - Monster Hunter
LC FORGER - Monster Hunter

I weep for what we were and for what we have lost.

Igor, Imperial Booby
Igor, Imperial Booby

A toast to those who have gone before, and one to those that will shortly join them. What stuff they were made of! My Dad used to tell stories of their type in WWII, it’s a shame I never wrote them down!! Four left. Godspeed, gentlemen. When you rejoin your mates, I’d love to be there. LC Forger, I weep… Read more »

irish19
irish19

Library Czar @ #:
Same here.

watchyerlane
watchyerlane

One of the great travesties in life is that these heros are passing away at an alarming rate. It is at that point for those of us who remember and honor their feats to continue to tell the stories of their greatness.