November 14, 2013 - On November 9, a group of EAA staff and others traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to participate in the Final Toast activities for the Doolittle Raiders. Chris Henry of EAA membership services and Zack Baughman, EAA Timeless Voices oral history program coordinator, and others, were among those lining the streets en route to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB.
Among the banners and flags was one held by Baughman and Henry that read, "EAA Thanks the Doolittle Raiders." As Dick Cole, one of the surviving Raiders, drove by, he spotted the EAA banner, pointed to it, and waved to them, Henry said. Cole was joined in Dayton by fellow surviving Raiders Edward Saylor, 93, and David Thatcher, 92. The fourth surviving Raider, Robert Hite, 93, was not well enough to attend.
"Seeing those men go by was like watching rock stars on stage," Henry observed.
A special wreath laying ceremony followed, including a missing man formation using six B-25 Mitchell bombers - the type in which 80 brave airmen took off from the carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, to bomb Japan four months after Pearl Harbor. That evening, the EAA contingent gathered with other EAAers from the Dayton area to toast the Doolittle Raiders themselves with Hennessy cognac just as the Raiders did that day.
"I am honored to have been there to show our support," Henry added. Others from EAA headquarters in Dayton were Tom Charpentier, EAA government advocacy specialist, along with Andy Ovans, member services, and Max Platts, Vintage Aircraft Association.
Meanwhile, as events unfolded in Dayton, members of EAA Chapter 242, along with members and guests of the South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation, participated in the event remotely via real-time video connection at Hamilton-Owens Airport in Columbia, South Carolina. Read about it on the Columbia Star website.