Freedom Has A Price Tag – Part I

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PART I of II  dated October 2013


Having local and national heroes is a very real necessity for all growing and strong nations.

Heroes provide the right examples for you to emulate.

Heroes are the correct examples for you to duplicate. 

Allow me to share with you a true and very real story about America and some of her modern day heroes.

We, as Americans, should learn about, know about, and always remember and be grateful and respectful for the great men and women of our past… who gave us our great and free country,…together with all of its principles, freedoms, liberties, and rewards.


We ought to always remember and be forever thankful for their mighty sacrifice and the blood-bought price these great men and women willingly paid for our freedoms as we now enjoy them.

It took a lot of guts, determination, total commitment, sacrifice, and yes, even death, so that you and I could live free as we do today with the blessings and benefits of the personal freedoms and liberties that we enjoy as Americans.


Never take that price that they paid for granted. 

Never fail to learn, know, and then to pass on that piece of knowledge to your own children so that each generation will always remember the price that was paid by their ancestors….just so that they could be FREE AND ENJOY THE LIFE THAT WAS FREELY GIVEN TO THEM BY OUR CREATOR GOD.





It is not the Politician dressed in coat and tie or beautiful dress sitting in the comfortable leather chairs within the Houses of Congress and the Supreme Court in Washington D. C. who gives you the freedoms you now enjoy….Oh No……

It is the Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, and Coast Guardsman dressed in full battle gear who fights and then wins the battle, who gives you and your family the freedoms that you have as free Americans!

Never criticize the military warrior.  Always be grateful for their existence and willingness to fight to keep our freedoms for all Americans!

What is your personal cause?

Would you be willing to sacrifice your life in order to accomplish it…in order to keep it?

A True Story please………Saturday, April 18, 1942:

Initially written in October, 2013:

Earlier in the decade, in the month of April, 2013, the four final living survivors of the World War II  Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s Air Raiders gathered publicly for the last time in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

These four men, together with the other former members of their unit, were once a part of the United States Army Air Force.  They were very brave, patriotic, fearless protectors of our cherished freedoms.  They were once among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States of America.  

Originally there were 80 members of the Raiders squadron who in April of 1942, carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in our nations’ entire history.

The mere mention of their unit’s name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans as they remembered their sacrifice and achievement.

Now, as of today (October 2013), only four of these heroes still survive…only 5 % of the original squadron still can tell their tale as eye-witnesses.

Their story is a great one and needs to be retold to all listeners so that it will never be forgotten….so that it can be passed on to future generations.  History is critically important for all citizens to know and appreciate.

After Japan’s dastardly sneak attack on the U.S. Navy Base at Pearl Harbor just outside down-town Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, with the United States still reeling and wounded from it,…our national political and military leaders knew that something dramatic was needed in order to turn the American war effort totally around and also shock and awe the Japanese population. 

The Japanese military was totally confident because of the huge distances across the Pacific Ocean, their island nation on the far western edge of the ocean would never be attacked by the United States.  They reasoned that it was simply too far to come and wage war. 

Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliatory air strike,…a most daring plan was created and devised.

Sixteen B-25 Bombers were modified so that they could take off from the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.  These brave men trained in total secrecy preparing for their planned air raid. 

This act had never before been tried—launching such big, fully-loaded, heavy bombers off an aircraft carrier.

The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, were fully aware that the group commander and all of his men would not be able to return to the carrier.  

The bombers simply could not carry enough fuel and bombs to make a round-trip. 

It was what it was: Nearly impossible odds—a suicide mission of sorts.  Definitely a matter of life or death….All of these circumstances were representative obstacles to thwarting THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM!

The airmen would have to first drop their bombs on Japan and then continue on westwardly across the treacherous Sea of Japan and hope their fuel would last until they were over China or Russia where they could safely land their aircraft.  

There were no guarantees.  They all (80 brave men) were willing to put their lives on the line and risk them for THEIR CAUSE.

But on the day of the raid, the U.S. Forces were prematurely spotted east of their planned launch point by Japanese fishing outpost (spy) boats.  

The outpost fishing boats immediately radioed the carrier’s navigation coordinate point’s location to the Japanese military headquarters.  

They (the Americans) had been spotted, located, identified, and now were no longer going to be a surprise to the people on the Japanese homeland.

The American Raiders were told they would have to launch their aircraft off of the carrier from much further out in the Pacific Ocean than they had originally planned.  

The deck guns of the accompanying U.S. warships quickly sank the enemy fishing boats and the decision to launch the bombers was quickly made thereafter.

The Raiders were told that because of this Japanese discovery of their where-abouts,…the increased flying distance to Tokyo would mean that they would not have enough fuel after dropping their bombs on Tokyo to make it to safety across the Sea of Japan.  


They were totally committed to THEIR CAUSE.

They bombed Tokyo, and then flew as far as they could westwardly across the Sea of Japan.  They began their Raid with 16,…5 man crews.

Four planes crash-landed (20 men); 11 more crews (55 men) bailed out of their fuel-empty aircraft, and three of the Raiders died.

8 more airmen were captured; three were executed.  Another flyer died of starvation in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  

One crew (5 men) made it safely all the way to Russia.

The strategic value of this raid was termed a great success, but the cost of it was horribly high.

The Doolittle Raid sent a loud and clear message from the United States of America to all of its enemies, and to the rest of the world, that we Americans will fight! 

And no matter what it takes, WE WILL WIN!  

Such an attitude is known as Resolute Determination.  

Do You Have It?

Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war (77%).  They were celebrated as national heroes, models of real bravery,…true American patriots.  

Hollywood Film-maker, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; the movie was called “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson.  

It was a very patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon.  

In the movie theatre previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story “with supreme pride.”

Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission.  The reunion is held in a different city each year.  

In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona, as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets.  Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.

Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the chosen reunion city.  

Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the wooden case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.

The greatest impact,…effect,…and lasting trait…of all combat service men and/or women is the great personal, almost spiritual, bond that comes to exist among and between them.  

They will all tell you that their strongest reason for fighting is to protect and preserve their buddies’ lives.  

It is called “camaraderie,”…“esprit de corps” and it means the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group.

Also in the wooden goblet carrying case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac.  The year of vintage is not happenstance: 1896 was the year of birth for Jimmy Doolittle.

There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last and drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.

As 2013 began, there were only five living Raiders; then, in February of that same year, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.  

What a man he was.  After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest following the Tokyo raid, he contracted malaria and almost died from it.  

He was safely found and hospitalized.  When he finally recovered, the U.S. military sent him to Europe to fly more combat missions in that theatre of war.  

He was shot down, captured by the enemy, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.

These 80 totally selfless men, these warriors who lived on their own gut-power, stamina, and devotion to the CAUSE OF FREEDOM were tremendous examples of what it truly means to be COMMITTED TO YOUR OWN CAUSE…to be a real American Patriot!

There was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Tom Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that was totally emblematic of the depth of his sense of duty and devotion.  

The lines read: “When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day.  He walked from his house to the nursing home, personally fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes.  

At night, he personally washed and ironed her clothes.  Then he walked them up to her room the next morning.  He did that every day for three consecutive years until her death in 2005.”

Do I hear the words of the marriage vows ringing down through the halls of time?….“in sickness and in health,….for richer or for poorer,….in good times and in bad times,….till death do us part.”

So now, out of the original 80 men, only four Raiders remain (5%).  They are: Dick Cole (Doolittle’s co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor, and David Thatcher.  All men are in their 90s.

They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.

The events at Fort Walton Beach this year (2013) will mark the end of these public reunions.

It has come full circle; Florida’s nearby Eglin Field was where, 71 years ago, the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission.  The town did all it could to honor these men: There was a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a full dinner, and a parade.  

Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice?  

They don’t talk about that, at least not around other people.

If you by chance ever have the opportunity to be around any of these men or any other military veterans for that matter, you just might want to offer them a word of thanks. 

I can tell you from personal experience and observation as well as being a veteran myself, that they would very much appreciate hearing that they were remembered for their accomplishments and contributions to protecting our combined freedoms that endure today.

The Tokyo Air Raiders have decided that after this year’s final public reunion, they will wait until a later date in the year and get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. 

That is when they will open the bottle of brandy.

The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them.  

They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets and raise them in a toast to those who are gone. 

Know, understand, and appreciate the great price that was paid by those hardy souls who passed this way in years gone by and who thankfully and gratefully paid their price so that we, you and me and our families, could remain so blessed as to live in a free country.  

“One Nation under God,…Indivisible,…With Liberty and Justice For All.”   

God Bless America…May She and all those precious souls who have kept Her free by their sacrifices through all the years and through all the battles always remain FREE.


End of Part I of II.

Peace and Love to All of You……………………. Poppa Bear

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