AFA Honors Doolittle Raiders at Final Goblet Ceremony

April 19, 2022

ARLINGTON, Va., April 18, 2022: The “Doolittle Raiders Final Goblet Ceremony” honoring the iconic World War II Airmen was held yesterday at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville, Fla. Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg (USAF, ret.), Executive Vice President of the Air & Space Forces Association (AFA), attended the event, marking the 80th anniversary of the Army Air Corps’ daring raid on Tokyo.

“The courage and resolve of the Doolittle Raiders instilled a sense of pride and fortitude for our country in its time of need,” Raaberg said. “For that, we will be forever indebted to them for their bravery.”

The Doolittle Raiders, whose moniker came after their leader, then-Army Air Corps Lt. Col. James Doolittle, flew 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers off the carrier USS Hornet to strike military and industrial targets in Tokyo on April 18, 1942. The raid demonstrated American airpower and capability at a time when Japanese officials had assured air strikes in Japan were not possible.

The Air & Space Forces Association holds special ties with the Doolittle Raiders, as Doolittle went on to found the then-Air Force Association in 1946.

“The Air & Space Forces Association continues to uphold the values Doolittle demonstrated not only during the raid on Tokyo, but throughout his life and career,” Raaberg said. “In founding AFA, Doolittle advocated for the critical role of aerospace power in supporting our country’s National Defense both today and into the future.”

Following the war, the Doolittle Raiders began hosting reunions, the first of which was held in 1946 to commemorate Doolittle’s birthday. Then in 1959, the city of Tucson, Ariz., presented each of the Doolittle Raiders with silver goblets that would become a signature piece of subsequent reunions.

Each goblet has a Raider’s name engraved twice—one right-side-up and another upside down—so a deceased Raider’s name can still be read after being turned upside down during a ceremonial roll call.

A “Final Toast” honoring the Raiders was held in 2013 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Three of the remaining four Raiders at the time attended in-person, Lt. Col. Richard E. “Dick” Cole, 98; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, 94, and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, 92.  The fourth, Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, 93, offered a toast virtually from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

In 2017, a goblet was raised by Cole, then the sole surviving Raider, at a commemoration ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the raid. Cole later died in 2019 at the age of 103.

Today’s Final Goblet ceremony was attended by high-ranking Air Force officials, Doolittle Raider family members, and government officials. It was the first Goblet Ceremony held without a surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, who were honored with a military aircraft fly-over led by a B-25 Mitchell bomber.

About AFA
The Air & Space Forces Association is the only professional military association exclusively dedicated to promoting dominant U.S. Air and Space Forces as the foundation of a strong National Defense. Founded in 1946 as a non-profit membership association, AFA is dedicated to educating the public on critical issues in air power, space power, and national security; advocating for dominant U.S. Air and Space Forces as the foundation of a strong national defense; supporting Airmen, Guardians, and their Families; and honoring the enduring heritage of America’s Air and Space Forces and veterans.