James Doolittle at the rank of Lt. General
|Birth name||James Harold Doolittle|
December 14, 1896|
|Died||September 27, 1993
Pebble Beach, California
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch|| Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps
United States Army Air Service
United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
|Years of service||1917–1959|
|Commands held||Twelfth Air Force
Fifteenth Air Force
Eighth Air Force
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Air Medal (4)
|Other work||Shell Oil, VP, Director
Space Technology Laboratories, Chairman
James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle (December 14, 1896 – September 27, 1993) was an American aviation pioneer. A Reserve officer in the United States Army Air Corps, Doolittle was recalled to active duty during World War II and awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor and leadership as commander of the Doolittle Raid, a bold long-range retaliatory air raid on the Japanese main islands weeks after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. He was eventually promoted to lieutenant general and commanded the Twelfth Air Force over North Africa, the Fifteenth Air Force over the Mediterranean, and the Eighth Air Force over Europe.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Military career
- 3 Doolittle Raid
- 4 World War II, post-raid
- 5 Postwar
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Honors and awards
- 8 Dates of rank
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Doolittle was born in Alameda, California, and spent his youth in Nome, Alaska, where he earned a reputation as a boxer. His parents were Frank Henry Doolittle and Rosa (Rose) Cerenah Shephard. By 1910, Jimmy Doolittle was attending school in Los Angeles. When his school attended the 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet at Dominguez Field Doolittle saw his first airplane. He attended Los Angeles City College after graduating from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, and later won admission to the University of California, Berkeley where he studied in The School of Mines. He was a member of Theta Kappa Nu fraternity, which would merge into Lambda Chi Alpha during the latter stages of the Great Depression. Doolittle took a leave of absence in October 1917 to enlist in the Signal Corps Reserve as a flying cadet; he ground trained at the School of Military Aeronautics (an Army school) on the campus of the University of California, and flight-trained at Rockwell Field, California. Doolittle received his Reserve Military Aviator rating and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Signal Officers Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army on March 11, 1918.
During World War I, Doolittle stayed in the United States as a flight instructor and performed his war service at Camp John Dick Aviation Concentration Center ("Camp Dick"), Texas; Wright Field, Ohio; Gerstner Field, Louisiana; Rockwell Field, California; Kelly Field, Texas and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Doolittle's service at Rockwell Field consisted of duty as a flight leader and gunnery instructor. At Kelly Field, he served with the 104th Aero Squadron and with the 90th Aero Squadron of the 1st Surveillance Group. His detachment of the 90th Aero Squadron was based at Eagle Pass, patrolling the Mexican border. Recommended by three officers for retention in the Air Service during demobilization at the end of the war, Doolittle qualified by examination and received a Regular Army commission as a 1st Lieutenant, Air Service, on July 1, 1920.
On May 10, 1921, he was engineering officer and pilot for an expedition recovering a plane that had force-landed in a Mexican canyon on February 10 during a transcontinental flight attempt by Lieut. Alexander Pearson. Doolittle reached the plane on May 3 and found it serviceable, then returned May 8 with a replacement motor and four mechanics. The oil pressure of the new motor was inadequate and Doolittle requested two pressure gauges, using carrier pigeons to communicate. The additional parts were dropped by air and installed, and Doolittle flew the plane to Del Rio, Texas himself, taking off from a 400-yard airstrip hacked out of the canyon floor.
Subsequently, he attended the Air Service Mechanical School at Kelly Field and the Aeronautical Engineering Course at McCook Field, Ohio. Having at last returned to complete his college degree, he earned the Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley in 1922, and joined the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
Doolittle was one of the most famous pilots during the inter-war period. In September 1922, he made the first of many pioneering flights, flying a de Havilland DH-4 – which was equipped with early navigational instruments – in the first cross-country flight, from Pablo Beach (now Jacksonville Beach), Florida, to Rockwell Field, San Diego, California, in 21 hours and 19 minutes, making only one refueling stop at Kelly Field. The U.S. Army awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Within days after the transcontinental flight, he was at the Air Service Engineering School (a precursor to the Air Force Institute of Technology) at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio. For Doolittle, the school assignment had special significance: "In the early '20s, there was not complete support between the flyers and the engineers. The pilots thought the engineers were a group of people who zipped slide rules back and forth, came out with erroneous results and bad aircraft; and the engineers thought the pilots were crazy – otherwise they wouldn't be pilots. So some of us who had previous engineering training were sent to the engineering school at old McCook Field. ... After a year's training there in practical aeronautical engineering, some of us were sent on to MIT where we took advanced degrees in aeronautical engineering. I believe that the purpose was served, that there was thereafter a better understanding between pilots and engineers."
In July 1923, after serving as a test pilot and aeronautical engineer at McCook Field, Doolittle entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In March 1924, he conducted aircraft acceleration tests at McCook Field, which became the basis of his master's thesis and led to his second Distinguished Flying Cross. He received his M.S. in Aeronautics from MIT in June 1924. Because the Army had given him two years to get his degree and he had done it in just one, he immediately started working on his Sc.D. in Aeronautics, which he received in June 1925. His doctorate in aeronautical engineering was the first ever issued in the United States. He said that he considered his master's work more significant than his doctorate.
Following graduation, Doolittle attended special training in high-speed seaplanes at Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C.. He also served with the Naval Test Board at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, and was a familiar figure in air speed record attempts in the New York area. He won the Schneider Cup race in a Curtiss R3C in 1925 with an average speed of 232 MPH. For that feat, Doolittle was awarded the Mackay Trophy in 1926.
In April 1926, Doolittle was given a leave of absence to go to South America to perform demonstration flights. In Chile, he broke both ankles, but put his P-1 Hawk through aerial maneuvers with his ankles in casts. He returned to the United States, and was confined to Walter Reed Army Hospital for his injuries until April 1927. Doolittle was then assigned to McCook Field for experimental work, with additional duty as an instructor pilot to the 385th Bomb Squadron of the Air Corps Reserve. During this time, in 1927 he was the first to perform an outside loop previously thought to be a fatal maneuver. Carried out in a Curtiss fighter at Wright Field in Ohio, Doolittle executed the dive from 10,000 feet, reached 280 miles per hour, bottomed out upside down, then climbed and completed the loop.
Doolittle's most important contribution to aeronautical technology was the development of instrument flying. He was the first to recognize that true operational freedom in the air could not be achieved unless pilots developed the ability to control and navigate aircraft in flight, from takeoff run to landing rollout, regardless of the range of vision from the cockpit. Doolittle was the first to envision that a pilot could be trained to use instruments to fly through fog, clouds, precipitation of all forms, darkness, or any other impediment to visibility; and in spite of the pilot's own possibly convoluted motion sense inputs. Even at this early stage, the ability to control aircraft was getting beyond the motion sense capability of the pilot. That is, as aircraft became faster and more maneuverable, pilots could become seriously disoriented without visual cues from outside the cockpit, because aircraft could move in ways that pilots' senses could not accurately decipher.
Doolittle was also the first to recognize these psycho-physiological limitations of the human senses (particularly the motion sense inputs, i.e., up, down, left, right). He initiated the study of the subtle interrelationships between the psychological effects of visual cues and motion senses. His research resulted in programs that trained pilots to read and understand navigational instruments. A pilot learned to "trust his instruments," not his senses, as visual cues and his motion sense inputs (what he sensed and "felt") could be incorrect or unreliable.
In 1929, he became the first pilot to take off, fly and land an airplane using instruments alone, without a view outside the cockpit. Having returned to Mitchel Field that September, he assisted in the development of fog flying equipment. He helped develop, and was then the first to test, the now universally used artificial horizon and directional gyroscope. He attracted wide newspaper attention with this feat of "blind" flying and later received the Harmon Trophy for conducting the experiments. These accomplishments made all-weather airline operations practical.
In January 1930, he advised the Army on the construction of Floyd Bennett Field in New York City. Doolittle resigned his regular commission on February 15, 1930, and was commissioned a Major in the Air Reserve Corps a month later, being named manager of the Aviation Department of Shell Oil Company, in which capacity he conducted numerous aviation tests. While in the Reserve, he also returned to temporary active duty with the Army frequently to conduct tests.
Doolittle helped influence Shell Oil Company to produce the first quantities of 100 octane aviation gasoline. High octane fuel was crucial to the high-performance planes that were developed in the late 1930s.
In 1932, Doolittle set the world's high speed record for land planes at 296 miles per hour in the Shell Speed Dash. Later, he took the Thompson Trophy race at Cleveland in the notorious Gee Bee R-1 racer with a speed averaging 252 miles per hour. After having won the three big air racing trophies of the time, the Schneider, Bendix, and Thompson, he officially retired from air racing stating, "I have yet to hear anyone engaged in this work dying of old age."
In April 1934, Doolittle was selected to be a member of the Baker Board. Chaired by former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, the board was convened during the Air Mail scandal to study Air Corps organization. In 1940, he became president of the Institute of Aeronautical Science.
Doolittle returned to active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps on July 1, 1940 with rank of Major. He was assigned as the assistant district supervisor of the Central Air Corps Procurement District at Indianapolis, and Detroit, where he worked with large auto manufacturers on the conversion of their plants for production of planes. The following August, he went to England as a member of a special mission and brought back information about other countries' air forces and military build-ups.
Following the reorganization of the Army Air Corps into the USAAF in June 1941, Doolittle was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on January 2, 1942, and assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters to plan the first retaliatory air raid on the Japanese homeland. He volunteered for and received General H.H. Arnold's approval to lead the top secret attack of 16 B-25 medium bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, with targets in Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya.
After training at Eglin Field and Wagner Field in northwest Florida, Doolittle, his aircraft, and flight crews proceeded to McClellan Field, California for aircraft modifications at the Sacramento Air Depot, followed by a short final flight to Naval Air Station Alameda, California for embarkation aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. On April 18, all the bombers successfully took off from the Hornet, reached Japan, and bombed their targets. Fifteen of the planes then headed for their recovery airfield in China, while one crew chose to land in Russia due to their bomber's unusually high fuel consumption. As did most of the other crewmen who participated in the mission, Doolittle's crew bailed out safely over China when their bomber ran out of fuel. By then they had been flying for about 12 hours, it was nighttime, the weather was stormy, and Doolittle was unable to locate their landing field. Doolittle came down in a rice paddy (saving a previously injured ankle from breaking) near Chuchow (Quzhou). He and his crew linked up after the bailout and were helped through Japanese lines by Chinese guerrillas and American missionary John Birch. Other aircrews were not so fortunate. Although most eventually reached safety with the help of friendly Chinese, four crewmembers lost their lives as a result of being captured by the Japanese and three due to aircraft crash and/or while parachuting. Doolittle went on to fly more combat missions as commander of the 12th Air Force in North Africa, for which he was awarded four Air Medals. The other surviving members of the raid also went on to new assignments.
Doolittle received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House for planning and leading his raid on Japan. His citation reads: "For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland."
The Doolittle Raid is viewed by historians as a major morale-building victory for the United States. Although the damage done to Japanese war industry was minor, the raid showed the Japanese that their homeland was vulnerable to air attack, and forced them to withdraw several front-line fighter units from Pacific war zones for homeland defense. More significantly, Japanese commanders considered the raid deeply embarrassing, and their attempt to close the perceived gap in their Pacific defense perimeter led directly to the decisive American victory during the Battle of Midway in June 1942.
When asked from where the Tokyo raid was launched, President Roosevelt coyly said its base was Shangri-La, a fictional paradise from the popular novel Lost Horizon. In the same vein, the U.S. Navy named one of its carriers the USS Shangri-La.
World War II, post-raid
In July 1942, as a Brigadier General – he had been promoted by two grades on the day after the Tokyo attack, by-passing the rank of full Colonel – Doolittle was assigned to the nascent Eighth Air Force. This followed the rejection of his name by General Douglas MacArthur as commander of the Southwest Pacific Area in place of General George Brett. Major General Frank Andrews first turned down the position, and, offered a choice between George Kenney and Doolittle, MacArthur chose Kenney. In September, Doolittle became commanding general of the Twelfth Air Force, soon to be operating in North Africa. He was promoted to Major General in November 1942, and in March 1943 became commanding general of the Northwest African Strategic Air Force, a unified command of U.S. Army Air Force and Royal Air Force units. In September, he commanded a raid against the Italian town of Battipaglia that was so thorough in its destruction that General Carl Andrew Spaatz sent him a joking message: "You're slipping Jimmy. There's one crabapple tree and one stable still standing." 
Maj Gen Doolittle took command of the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in November 1943. On June 10, he flew as co-pilot with Jack Sims, fellow Tokyo Raider, in a B-26 Marauder of the 320th Bombardment Group, 442nd Bombardment Squadron on a mission to attack gun emplacements at Pantelleria. Doolittle continued to fly, despite the risk of capture, while being privy to the Ultra secret, which was that the German encryption systems had been broken by the British. From January 1944 to September 1945, he held his largest command, the Eighth Air Force (8 AF) in England as a Lieutenant General, his promotion date being March 13, 1944 and the highest rank ever held by an active reserve officer in modern times.
Doolittle's breakthrough in fighter tactics
Doolittle's major influence on the European air war occurred early in the year when he changed the policy requiring escorting fighters to remain with the bombers at all times - this was partly due to help from the British Royal Navy's best test pilot, Eric Brown flight-testing all three major American fighter designs (P-38, P-47 and the then-new, Packard Merlin-powered P-51B) being used for such escort duties, along with at least two other pilots (Sqn Ldr James "Jimmy" Nelson and Sqn Ldr Douglas Weightman) from the RAE's Aerodynamics Flight test unit late in 1943 and into the initial months of 1944. Following Brown's testing and evaluations, Doolittle's initiatives at improving the effectiveness of American fighter "protection" for the Eighth's strategic bomber forces went into effect. These tasks were initially performed with Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts through the end of 1943, with both earlier types being steadily replaced with the long-ranged North American P-51 Mustangs as the spring of 1944 wore on. Doolittle's changes got American fighter pilots on bomber defense missions flying far ahead of the bombers' combat box formations in air supremacy mode, literally "clearing the skies" of any Luftwaffe fighter opposition heading towards the target. This strategy fatally disabled the twin-engined Zerstörergeschwader heavy fighter wings and their replacement, single-engined Sturmgruppen of heavily armed Fw 190As, clearing each force of bomber destroyers in their turn from Germany's skies throughout most of 1944. As part of this game-changing strategy, especially after the bombers had hit their targets, the USAAF's fighters were then free to strafe German airfields and transport while returning to base.
After the end of the European war, the Eighth Air Force was re-equipped with B-29 Superfortress bombers and started to relocate to Okinawa in the Pacific. Two bomb groups had begun to arrive on August 7. However, the 8th was not scheduled to be at full strength until February 1946 and Doolittle declined to rush 8th Air Force units into combat saying that "If the war is over, I will not risk one airplane nor a single bomber crew member just to be able to say the 8th Air Force had operated against the Japanese in the Pacific".
On 27 March 1946, Doolittle was requested by Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson to head a commission on the relationships between officers and enlisted men in the US Army. Called the "Doolittle Board", or informally the "GI Gripes Board", many of the recommendations were implemented for the postwar volunteer US Army, though many professional officers and noncommissioned officers thought the Board "destroyed the discipline of the Army". After the Korean War columnist Hanson Baldwin said the Doolittle Board "caused severe damage to service effectiveness by recommendations intended to 'democratize' the Army - a concept that is self-contradictory".
US Space Program
Jimmy Doolittle became acquainted with the field of Space Science in its infancy. He wrote in his autobiography, "I became interested in rocket development in the 1930s when I met Robert H. Goddard, who laid the foundation [in the US].... While with Shell[Oil] I worked with him on the development of a type of [rocket] fuel...." Harry Guggenheim, whose foundation sponsored Goddard's work, and Charles Lindbergh, who encouraged Goddard's efforts, arranged for (then Major) Doolittle to discuss with Goddard a special blend of gasoline. Doolittle piloted himself to Roswell, New Mexico in October 1938 and was given a tour of Goddard's workshop and a "short course" in rocketry and space travel. He then wrote a memo, including a rather detailed description of Goddard's rocket. In closing he said, "interplanetary transportation is probably a dream of the very distant future, but with the moon only a quarter of a million miles away—who knows!" In July 1941 he wrote Goddard that he was still interested in rocket propulsion research. The Army, however, was interested only in JATO at this point. Doolittle was concerned about the state of rocketry in the US and remained in touch with Goddard.:1443
Shortly after World War II Doolittle spoke to an American Rocket Society conference at which a large number interested in rocketry attended. The topic was Robert Goddard's work. He later stated that at that time "...we [the aeronautics field in the US] had not given much credence to the tremendous potential of rocketry.
In 1956 he was appointed chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) because the previous chairman, Jerome C. Hunsaker, thought Doolittle to be more sympathetic to the rocket, which was increasing in importance as a scientific tool as well as a weapon.:516 The NACA Special Committee on Space Technology was organized in January 1958 and chaired by Guy Stever to determine the requirements of a national space program and what additions were needed to NACA technology. Doolittle, Dr. Hugh Dryden and Stever selected committee members, such as Dr. Wernher von Braun from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Sam Hoffman of Rocketdyne, Abe Hyatt of the Office of Naval Research and Colonel Norman Appold from the USAF missile program, considering their potential contributions to US space programs and ability to educate NACA people in space science.
On 10 May 1946, Doolittle reverted to inactive reserve status in the Army Air Forces in the grade of Lieutenant General, a rarity in those days when nearly all other reserve officers were limited to the rank of Major General or Rear Admiral, a restriction that would not end in the US armed forces until the 21st century. In September 1947, his reserve commission as a general officer would be transferred to the newly established United States Air Force. Doolittle returned to Shell Oil as a vice president, and later as a director.
In 1947, Doolittle also became the first president of the Air Force Association, an organization which he helped create.
In 1948, Doolittle advocated the desegregation of the US military. "I am convinced," emphasized Doolittle, "that the solution to the situation is to forget that they are colored." Industry was in the process of integrating, Doolittle said, "and it is going to be forced on the military. You are merely postponing the inevitable and you might as well take it gracefully."
In March 1951, Doolittle was appointed a special assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, serving as a civilian in scientific matters which led to Air Force ballistic missile and space programs. In 1952, following a string of three air crashes in two months at Elizabeth, New Jersey, the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, appointed him to lead a presidential commission examining the safety of urban airports. The report "Airports And Their Neighbors" led to zoning requirements for buildings near approaches, early noise control requirements, and initial work on "super airports" with 10,000 ft runways, suited to 150 ton aircraft.
Doolittle was appointed a life member of the MIT Corporation, the university's board of trustees, an uncommon permanent appointment, and served as an MIT Corporation Member for 40 years.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked Doolittle to perform a study of the Central Intelligence Agency; The resulting work was known as the Doolittle Report, 1954, and was classified for a number of years.
In January 1956, Dwight Eisenhower asked Doolittle to serve as a member on the first edition of the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities which, years later, would become known as the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.
From 1957 to 1958, he was chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). This period was during the events of Sputnik, Vanguard and Explorer. He was the last person to hold this position, as the NACA was superseded by NASA. Doolittle was offered the job of being the first administrator of NASA, but he turned it down.
In 1972, Doolittle received the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation, in recognition of the development of instrument flight.
On April 4, 1985, the U.S. Congress promoted Doolittle to the rank of full 4-star General (O-10) on the U.S. Air Force retired list. In a later ceremony, President Ronald Reagan and U.S. Senator and retired Air Force Reserve Major General Barry Goldwater pinned on Doolittle's four-star insignia.
In addition to his Medal of Honor for the Tokyo raid, Doolittle also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, four Air Medals, and decorations from Great Britain, France, Belgium, Poland, China and Ecuador. He was the first person to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Medal of Freedom, the nation's two highest honors. Doolittle was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1959. In 1983, he was awarded the United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America as the only member of the air racing category in the inaugural class of 1989, and into the Aerospace Walk of Honor in the inaugural class of 1990. The headquarters of the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates (AOG) on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy, Doolittle Hall, is named in his honor.
On May 9, 2007, The new 12th Air Force Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), Building 74, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, was named in his honor as the "General James H. Doolittle Center." Several surviving members of the Doolittle Raid were in attendance during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Doolittle married Josephine "Joe" E. Daniels on December 24, 1917. At a dinner celebration after Jimmy Doolittle's first all-instrument flight in 1929, Josephine Doolittle asked her guests to sign her white damask tablecloth. Later, she embroidered the names in black. She continued this tradition, collecting hundreds of signatures from the aviation world. The tablecloth was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. Married for over 70 years, Josephine Doolittle died in 1988, five years before her husband.
The Doolittles had two sons, James Jr., and John. Both became military officers and pilots. James Jr. was an A-26 Invader pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and later a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1940s through the late 1950s. He committed suicide at the age of thirty-eight in 1958. At the time of his death, James Jr. was a Major and commander of the 524th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, piloting the F-101 Voodoo.
His other son, John P. Doolittle, retired from the Air Force as a Colonel, and his grandson, Colonel James H. Doolittle III, was the vice commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle died at the age of 96 in Pebble Beach, California on September 27, 1993, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, near Washington, D.C., next to his wife. In his honor at the funeral, there was also a flyover of Miss Mitchell, a lone B-25 Mitchell, and USAF Eighth Air Force bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. After a brief graveside service, fellow Doolittle Raider Bill Bower began the final tribute on the bugle. When emotion took over, Doolittle's great-grandson, Paul Dean Crane, Jr., played Taps.
Honors and awards
Medal of Honor citation
For conspicuous leadership above the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Gen. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland.
Army Distinguished Service medal citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General James Harold Doolittle (ASN: 0-271855), United States Army Air Forces, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Commander of the Northwest African Strategic Air Force since its organization. Under his guidance and direction, this Force has developed a high degree of efficiency and accuracy and brought about, in great measure, a critical reduction in the supplies and reinforcements needed by the enemy. General Doolittle's energy, good judgment, exceptional qualities of leadership and wholehearted cooperation were primary factors in the ultimate success of air operations during the Tunisian Campaign.
Distinguished Flying Cross citations
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to First Lieutenant (Air Service) James Harold Doolittle (ASN: 0-271855), U.S. Army Air Corps, for extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. On 4–5 September 1922, Lieutenant Doolittle accomplished a one-stop flight from Pablo Beach, Florida, to San Diego, California, in 22 hours and 30 minutes elapsed time, an extraordinary achievement with the equipment available at that time. By his skill, endurance, and resourcefulness he demonstrated the possibility of moving Air Corps units to any portion of the United States in less than 24 hours, thus reflecting great credit on himself and to the Army of the United States.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Distinguished Flying Cross to First Lieutenant (Air Service) James Harold Doolittle (ASN: 0-271855), U.S. Army Air Corps, for extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. During March 1924, at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, Lieutenant Doolittle, piloting a Fokker PW-7 pursuit airplane, performed a series of acceleration tests requiring skill, initiative, endurance, and courage of the highest type. In these tests a recording accelerometer was mounted in the airplane and the accelerations taken for the following maneuvers. Loops at various air speeds; single and multiple barrel rolls; power spirals; tail spins; power on and power off; half loop, half roll, and Immelmann turn; inverted flight; pulling out of dive at various air speeds; flying the airplane on a level course with considerable angle of bank; and flying in bumpy air. In these tests the airplane was put through the most extreme maneuvers possible in order that the flight loads imposed upon the wings of the airplane under extreme conditions of air combat might be ascertained. These tests were put through with that fine combination of fearlessness and skill which constitutes the essence of distinguished flying. Through them scientific data of great and permanent importance to the Air Corps were obtained.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) James Harold Doolittle (ASN: 0-271855), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement as Pilot of a B-25 Bomber and Commanding Officer of the 1st Special Aviation Project (Doolittle Raider Force), while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland on 18 April 1942. Colonel Doolittle with 79 other officers and enlisted men volunteered for this mission knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote, and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on himself and the military service.
Silver Star citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1948, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Major General (Air Corps) James Harold Doolittle (ASN: 0-271855), United States Army Air Forces, for gallantry in action. Since 19 February 1943, when he took command of the Allied Strategic Air Force (Northwest Africa), General Doolittle, by his untiring energy, initiative and personal example has inspired the units under him to renewed successful efforts against the enemy. On 5 April 1943, the strategic air force was responsible for the destruction of forty eight enemy planes in the air and approximately 100 on the ground. This extraordinary achievement under the leadership of General Doolittle reflects great credit to himself and the armed forces of the United States.
Other military awards
- Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters
- World War I Victory Medal
- American Defense Service Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one battle star
- European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five battle stars
- American Campaign Medal
- World War Two Victory Medal
Doolittle was invested into the Sovereign Order of Cyprus and his medallion is now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
In 1967 James H. Doolittle was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and in 1972 he was awarded the Horatio Alger Award, which is given to those who are dedicated community leaders who demonstrate individual initiative and a commitment to excellence; as exemplified by remarkable achievements accomplished through honesty, hard work, self-reliance and perseverance over adversity. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. bears the name of the renowned author Horatio Alger, Jr., whose tales of overcoming adversity through unyielding perseverance and basic moral principles captivated the public in the late 19th century.
In 1983, Doolittle was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award.
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots annually presents the James H. Doolittle Award in his memory. The award is for "outstanding accomplishment in technical management or engineering achievement in aerospace technology".
In popular culture
- Spencer Tracy played Doolittle in Mervyn LeRoy's 1944 film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. This portrayal has received much praise.
- Alec Baldwin played Doolittle in Michael Bay's 2001 film Pearl Harbor. This portrayal caused much outrage among those who knew the general.
- Bob Clampett's 1946 cartoon Baby Bottleneck briefly portrays a dog named "Jimmy Do-quite-a-little", who invents a failed rocketship.
- The husband of country-and-western singer Loretta Lynn, Oliver Vanetta Lynn Jr., drew one of his two nicknames, "Doolittle," from the general officer, since he was a veteran of service in the United States Army before marrying the former Loretta Webb. (His other nickname, "Mooney," was drawn from his having once run "moonshine," or illegally-manufactured liquor.)
Dates of rank
- Private First Class - 10 November 1917
- Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant - 11 March 1918
- 1st Lieutenant - 1 July 1920
- Resigned - 15 February 1930
- Major (Air Reserve Corps) - March 1930
- Active Duty - 1 July 1940
- Lieutenant Colonel - 2 January 1942
- Brigadier General - 18 April 1942
- Major General - November 1942
- Lieutenant General - 13 March 1944
- Reverted to Inactive Status - 10 May 1946
- Retired - 28 February 1959
- General (Retired) - 4 April 1985
- Berliner 2009, p. 37.
- Quigley, Samantha L. "Detroit Defied Reality to Help Win World War II". United Service Organizations. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Flight October 29, 1925, p.703.
- Donald M. Pattillo. A History in the Making: 80 Turbulent Years in the American General Aviation Industry. p. 16.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to James Harold Doolittle.|
- "Arlington National Cemetery Website – James Harold Doolittle". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- "Travis Air Museum, supporting the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- "Maritimequest Doolittle Raid Photo Gallery". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- William R. Wilson. "Article: Jimmy Doolittle Reminiscences About World War II". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- "Medal of Honor recipients on film". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- "Interview with granddaughter Joanna Doolittle Hoppes at the Pritzker Military Library". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- "DoolittleRaiders.com". Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- The short film 15 AF HERITAGE – HIGH STRATEGY – BOMBER AND TANKERS TEAM (1980) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The short film ACTIVITIES OF THE U.S. ARMY AIR SERVICE (1925) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- "Doolittle Tames the Gee Bee" Story of the 1932 Thompson Trophy race. Includes quotes, photos, video