The Last Mans Club

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Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 11:57am

Seattle World War II vets meet every year to remember fallen comrades.

They have gathered every year on December 7 for more than 60 years.

When the special group of World War Two veterans first formed in the late 1940s, there were 79 members.

Now Seattle's Last Man's Club is down to just four men.

Those four -- Jay Sullivan, Herb Bridge, Ray Irby and Elliott Burdett -- met once again Wednesday night on the 21st floor of the Washington Athletic Club.

Like always, they inspected an old bottle of Hennessy that is stored in a small casket throughout the year.

The man who outlives all the others is supposed to toast his 78 departed comrades by drinking from the bottle.

The tradition is patterned after something their World War One predecessors did.

"When it came down to three people, they decided they'd open it and it was spoiled," Bridge said. "It was vinegar."

The men do not know if their bottle is any good.

"I put some wax on it a couple years ago so even I wouldn't be tempted," Bridge said while holding the bottle.

Ultimately, the men will decide how many of them will get to drink from it. But they are just not ready to open it yet.

Irby, 93, fears he won't make it.

"I'm the oldest, so I assume I'm in line," he said.

"We're going all the way to the end, aren't we, Ray?" Sullivan asked.

"Oh, yeah," Irby replied.
 

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