Next week, a United States Air Force Academy cadet will once again turn over a cup to signify that another "hero" has passed.
76 cups upside down...4 remaining.
This "tradition " has been going on for 71 years and this will be the last time these few brave gentlemen will be together in one place, at one time. For you see, there are now only 4 remaining of the original 80 men who took off on a cold wet April 18th day knowing that they had insufficient fuel to reach a safe destination. Knowing full well that this may be their final mission. But take-off they did. From the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet, right into history.
These are the remaining survivors of the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Brave men who, when the carrier task force was spotted by a Japanese patrol boat 160 miles from their intended launch point, scrambled into their planes and set out on their journey. A journey that far exceeded the ability of their aircraft to make a safe landing in free China.
Next week will be the 71st reunion of the survivors of the Doolittle Raid. While there are still 4 alive, only 3 will be making the trip to Eglin Air Force Base where they learned to fly B-25's off a rolling, pitching carrier deck. Learning to take off a fully loaded bomber in around 400 feet. Allowing the United States to strike the Japanese mainland in a mission that showed the true character and will of a people that had been attacked at Pearl Harbor less than 6 months prior.
So, surviving WWII vets and historians will reunite with their brethren next week to celebrate the lives and the accomplishments of these brave men.
It's too bad our Congress can't take a little time out from their precious schedules to help immortalize these men. Maybe the President can offer up some space on Air Force One or the Vice-President can find some extra room on Air Force Two to help Congress meet and talk to some real-live heroes.
Yes, I am being sarcastic, but the irony is real. There are two bills that are stalled in committee: Senate Bill S-281 and House Bill HR-1209.
The bills are non-partisan. There hasn't been an outpouring of resistance to the passage of this Legislation. You haven't seen Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or House Speaker Jon Boehner making the rounds of the Sunday shows wringing their hands on how this is going to hurt the country.
These two pieces of Legislation that you probably have never heard of authorize the striking of 6 Congressional Gold Medals for the survivors of the Tokyo Raid. Five of the medals were going to be presented to the remaining survivors, (one has since passed away) and one was to be presented to the National Museum of the United States Air Force to be included in it's exhibit of the event.
Total cost: $30,000.00
In addition, the legislation authorizes the striking of bronze medals for sale to collectors to help recoup the cost of the minting. For once, a true revenue-neutral program coming out of Washington.
Unfortunately, the House bill went to Committee in March and still languishes there and the Senate bill was sent to Committee in February with no action. How can this be?
Tonight, the President of the United States hosts a party with A-list attendees. They will be wined, dined and entertained. Also tonight, 71 years ago, 80 men were preparing for a daring raid on an enemy who had, up to now, kicked the snot out of the United States.
Is it really that difficult to honor those few men who remain and also pay tribute to those who are gone.
Stalled in Committee...Are you Serious?