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Surviving WWII Doolittle Raiders Gather For Final Ceremony

Three of the four remaining members of the Doolittle Raiders gathered for a commemorative ceremony Saturday in Dayton, Ohio.
Posted at 10:05 AM, Nov 10, 2013

Three of the four remaining members of the Doolittle Raiders, all in their 90s, gathered in Dayton, Ohio, Saturday to give a final toast to their fallen comrades and commemorate their accomplishments during World War II.

THATCHER: "We were flying about 50 feet, and the people were waving at us. We were flying so low, and I could see the expressions on their faces. They were cheering." (Via WCMH)

The Doolittle Raiders are perhaps best known for helping turn the tide in favor of the U.S. during the war just months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. (Via Fox News)

During their raid, they bombed targets like Tokyo and other Japanese cities in April 1942. (Via U.S. Air Force)

While the bombs didn't do much damage, the team of 80 was credited with boosting morale during the war — leading to the country's notable victory at the Battle of Midway just two months later. (Via WKRC)

More than 600 guests made it to the invite-only event. Normally, the surviving members meet every April to celebrate the anniversary of the raid — a tradition started by James Doolittle, himself.

But at their latest reunion this past April — just two months after losing a fellow fighter — the last four members decided to make their next meeting their last. (Via WOIO)

As they did every year, the surviving members got up and proposed a toast to celebrate their fallen comrades.

LT. COL. RICHARD E. COLE: "Gentlemen, I propose a toast to those we lost on the mission and those who have passed away since. ... May they rest in peace." (Via KABC)

The fourth member of the team who couldn't make it because of an illness toasted the group from his home in Nashville, Tenn. Lt. Col. Robert Hite is the last surviving prisoner of war from the raid. (Via KPNX)

To finish the event, the surviving members drank cognac from goblets with their names etched into them. When Raiders pass away, their goblets are turned upside down to remember their service.