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 Jimmy Doolittle

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Jimmy Doolittle

World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Aviation Pioneer. He was born in Alameda, California, in 1896, but his family moved to Nome, Alaska, when he was 4-years-old. He showed a keen interest in flying from an early age. At the age of 15, he built a glider from plans he found in Popular Mechanics magazine. While at the University of California, he studied mining engineering, but left college with one year remaining to join the United States Army Signal Corps as part of the American Expeditionary Forces, which were headed to Europe in World War I. Once the war was over, he set a series of aviation records, including being the first pilot to fly coast to coast in less than a day. In September 1922, he took off from Jacksonville, Florida, and landed in San Diego, California, 20 hours and 30 minutes later. He also made the first instrument flight; taking off, flying, and landing without seeing beyond his instrument panel. In 1927, he earned his Ph.D in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked for Shell Oil Company throughout the 1930s, but was recalled to active duty in 1940 with the rank of Major. He was placed in command of a flying unit that came to be known as "Doolittle's Raiders." On April 18, 1942, 80 pilots flew 16 B-25s from the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet. After the stirring attack on Japan, most of the men were forced to bail out over mainland China. Sixty-nine of them landed in friendly territory. His leadership of the attack earned him the Medal of Honor. The attack was the subject of a 1944 movie, "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo," starring Spencer Tracy. He was placed in command of the 12th Air Force in Britain, the 15th Air Force, which took part in the invasion of North Africa and Italy, and the 8th Air Force, which later attacked Germany. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1944, and held the rank of General when he left the Army in 1946. He returned to once again work for Shell Oil after the service. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in Pebble Beach, California. His MOH was presented to him on June 9, 1942. His citation states: 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.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2454
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jimmy Doolittle (14 Dec 1896–27 Sep 1993), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2454, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .