Marian Mapes was there Saturday, in a museum hangar in Ohio, when three of the four surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders uncorked a bottle of 117-year-old cognac and for the last time together toasted their departed comrades.
Mapes, a Santa Rosan and niece to a Raider who died more than a decade ago, can't easily pick a greatest moment of the historic occasion.
It was mighty for her to don cotton gloves and touch the silver goblets etched with the names of all 80 aviators who stunned the world 14 weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor by flying 16 B-25 bombers off an aircraft carrier and raiding Japan.
Mapes examined the goblet bearing the name of her late uncle, navigator Clayton Campbell. And because she knew and loved Frank Kappeler of Santa Rosa, also a Raider navigator, she picked up and admired his goblet too.
"They're lovely," she said. "They're not very big."
Mapes feels fortunate to have been present when a Chinese man approached 98-year-old Richard Cole, who'd been co-pilot to raid leader Jimmy Doolittle, and handed him something.
The man had traveled from China, where most of the fuel-exhausted bombers crashed or crash-landed. He gave Cole a broken piston ring from the wreckage of his and Doolittle's plane.
Japanese occupiers made the Chinese suffer terribly for having assisted the Americans in 1942, yet this man traveled half-way around the world for his last chance to thank the Raiders and return that shard of history.
Mapes found the entire final reunion "very moving, very moving.
"It inspired me to be a better me," she said.
BUDDY GUY'S BUDDY: As blues great Buddy Guy wrapped up Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, he doled guitar picks to fans.
Offered one, 10-year-old Vittorio Piazza told the bluesman, "I don't want a pick, I want to play." Buddy Guy said all right, come on up.
He handed his electric guitar to Vittorio, a fifth-grader at St. Rose School. The kid launched into a freeform blues lick that had mouths dropping and heads bobbing all over the hall.
"I had never heard Vittorio play the blues," said his astonished father Antonio Piazza.
But he's heard the kid rock. Vittorio and his twin brother, Vincenzo, and their band already have filmed and recorded a 12-song DVD.
Buddy Guy, blown away, declared that the next time he's in Santa Rosa he wants Vittorio to come play with him.
The kid replied, "We have a concert on the 15th of February and if you want to, come play with us."
That gig happens at Santa Rosa's Rock Star University. See you there. And Buddy?
LIKE CHICKEN WINGS? How many would you guess star chef Douglas Keane sold at his walk-up DK Wings at the casino over this past, inaugural weekend?
Who said more than 18,000?
The only money I spent during a visit Sunday to the suddenly bustling satellite of Las Vegas west of Rohnert Park bought me eight of them.
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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