To those who have gone.
- A toast by the surviving Doolittle’s Raiders
Jobs, or the Lack Thereof- According to the Labor Dept., there are now 11.7 million workers looking for work who cannot find it. The tally for those considered “underemployed” brings the total up to 21.9 million. According to the Brookings Institute, to return to prerecession employment levels, while at the same time absorbing all the new people who enter the work force each month, over the next seven years the economy would need to create an average of 208,000 jobs each month. No wonder the Fed keeps ordering new printing presses.
Women At Work- According to the Labor Dept., of the 165,000 jobs created in April, 71% went to women. The survey also found that there were close to 200,000 more women working in April than March, while the number of employed men declined. 2013 isn’t just the year of the snake; it’s the year of the sugar mommy.
Just Plain Marginal
AVEO Pharmaceuticals (AVEO)- With the stock trading at $2.50, RBC Capital Markets downgraded AVEO to Sector Perform from Outperform and lowered their price target from $15 to $6. Let me see if I have this straight: you have a price target more than DOUBLE its recent price, yet you have it rated as a Sector Perform. I guess RBC believes the Dow is going to 30,000 in the next twelve months.
Views From the Cheap Seats
Tom Griffin married Esther Jones on June 13, 1945 in Dowagiac, Michigan. The couple settled in the Cincinnati area, where Tom hung a shingle as an accountant. They raised two sons and lived a pleasant, quiet life.
Esther became ill in 2002 and needed to be moved to a nursing home. Every day, Tom walked from his house to the nursing home to feed and care for his ailing wife. Then he would walk back home, usually carrying her laundry. He spent his nights washing and ironing her clothes. The next morning, Tom would walk them up to her room. He did this everyday for three years until her death in 2005. They were married sixty years.
But Tom Griffin was more than a loving husband.
On April 18, 1942, twenty-five year old Air Force navigator Tom Griffin stood on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Earlier that morning, two small fishing vessels were spotted near the carrier and sunk by US fighter planes. Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, fearful that the boats may have warned the Japanese of their location, changed his plans and ordered his squadron of sixteen B-25 bombers to takeoff immediately, even though they were still about 640 miles from Tokyo, over 200 miles further than their original plan. That decision meant the planes would have barely enough fuel to drop their bombs and successfully reach their landing zones in China— assuming, of course, they didn’t get shot down first.
Griffin and the other members of his crew (Plane #9-“Whirling Dervish”) took off and headed for Tokyo, flying just above the waves to save fuel and avoid detection. Griffin would later recall, “I thought it was much too beautiful a day to be flying on a mission of destruction such as ours.” After successfully dropping their bombs and hitting their targets amid a sea of anti-aircraft fire, Griffin and his crew turned southwest and headed for China.
The nighttime weather began to deteriorate, further draining their fuel supplies. With virtually zero visibility, the men had to rely entirely on their watches and compass to guess their location. After 15 hours in the air, the engines began to spit and sputter. They were about to run out of gas. It was time to jump—at 10,000 feet—in pitch darkness—into a storm.
Griffin landed in a bamboo tree near Nanchang. He escaped Japanese capture and was later sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. Griffin was shot down on July 4, 1943 on a mission over Sicily and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp. Just months after the war in Europe ended, he married Esther.
Of the 80 men who volunteered for this very dangerous mission and later become known as “Doolittle’s Raiders,” 69 escaped capture and death. In 1945, Doolittle gathered his men and brought them together for a reunion. Since then, each April on the anniversary of their mission, they have gathered at such cities as Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Columbia, Dayton, and Fresno. The high point of each reunion is a solemn, private ceremony in which the surviving Raiders perform a roll call, and then toast their fellow Raiders who have passed away the previous year. In 1959, the city of Tucson gave the Raiders 80 silver goblets, each inscribed with the name of a Raider. Since then, they are taken to the reunion sites and used for toasts to “those who have gone.” If a man has died during the previous year, a member of his crew goes to the goblet case and turns his goblet over.
Major Thomas C. Griffin died on February 26, 2013 at the age of 96. On April 18, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the surviving Doolittle Raiders met publicly for the 71st time and turned over Griffin’s goblet.
Doolittle’s Raiders took an oath that a bottle of 1896 Cognac (the year Doolittle was born) would be enjoyed by the last two survivors. In a change of plans that General Jimmy Doolittle would have appreciated, the last four living Raiders, each well into their 90’s, have decided to cease their public reunions. Sometime later this year, they’ll gather in absolute privacy and open up that special bottle of brandy.
Thank you, Tom Griffin and the other Doolittle Raiders, for teaching us the meaning of bravery, valor, dignity, dedication, loyalty and patriotism. We raise our glasses to you.
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