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A Raider's Toast: The Doolittle Raiders' Goblets

 

These 80 silver goblets commemorate the 80 men who flew the Doolittle Raid against Japan in April 1942. Over the years, these goblets have taken a highly symbolic place in the history of military aviation.

In December 1946 Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle and his fellow Raiders gathered to celebrate his birthday, and that event turned into an annual reunion. In 1959 the city of Tucson, Ariz., presented the Doolittle Raiders with this set of silver goblets, each bearing the name of one of the 80 men who flew on the mission. During halftime at a U.S. Air Force Academy football game, Doolittle turned them over to the superintendent of the Academy for safekeeping.

The Air Force Academy displayed these goblets between Raider reunions. In 1973 Richard E. "Dick" Cole, Doolittle's copilot during the 1942 raid, built this portable display case to transport them.

At every reunion, the surviving Raiders meet privately to conduct their solemn "Goblet Ceremony." After toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, they turn the deceased men's goblets 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. When there are only two Raiders left, these two men will drink one final toast to their departed comrades.

In 2005 the surviving Doolittle Raiders decided to make the National Museum of the United States Air Force the permanent home for these historic goblets.

Click here for a list of mistakes on the goblets.

Click here to return to the Doolittle Raid Overview.