The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association was formed in the aftermath of James H. Doolittle’s epic raid on Japan on April 18, 1942. Shortly after end of World War II, Doolittle called for all the surviving Raiders to attend a celebration in Miami Beach, Florida. At this time it was decided that an annual reunion be held starting in 1947. Since then, a reunion has been organized every year (barring a few exceptions). As defined by the Raiders themselves, the purpose of these reunions would be three fold: “to renew old friendships, to honor the memory of those who have passed on, and to participate in some activity which is of benefit to the nation, to the Air Force, [and] to the community in which they meet.”
The reunion is held in April, on or around the 18th, the date of the Tokyo Raid. The reunions have been held in various cities located throughout the United States. One of the most important parts of a reunion is the Goblet Ceremony, which honors those Raiders who have passed on. This is a solemn ceremony that involves commemorative goblets that were presented to the Raiders by the city of Tucson, Arizona at the 1956 reunion.
The Association also awards scholarships to students pursuing education in an aviation related field. Until the 1960’s the Association also gave an award that honored the Air Force unit with the best Traffic Safety Record, but this award has since been discontinued.
A reunion generally will also include lectures and talks about the raid, chances for the public to meet and get autographs from the Raiders, book signings, community activities, recreational opportunities, luncheons, fellowship, and a gala dinner/dance, which caps off the reunion weekend. The Association will continue to hold reunions as long as there are Raiders to attend them.
At the time this finding aid was revised, the last Raider, co-pilot to James H. Doolittle, Lt. Col. Richard E. "Dick" Cole had passed away at the age of 103 in 2019.