|14 Dec 1896
|27 Sep 1993
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseJames Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle of Alameda, California, United States, was an enlisted man in the Army Signal Corps in 1917. Perhaps from the time he had spent in frontier Alaska, Doolittle developed to be a daring and innovative individual from a young age. His interest in aviation, a newly developed technology at the time, drove him to receive flight training and became a commissioned officer (lieutenant) at the conclusion of that training on 11 Mar 1918. He served as a Air Corps instructor during WW1 and earned fame as an aviator while studying at MIT during the inter-war years. Between the great wars, he had also worked in the civilian aeronautical science field and piloted experimental aircrafts with pioneering instruments. During the inter-war years he contributed greatly to the development of instrument-assisted flying; he was the first pilot to operate an aircraft based solely on instrument readings without utilitzing human sight.
ww2dbaseWhen WW2 started, as a lieutenant colonel of the Army Reserves, he oversaw the conversion of peace-time automotive manufacturing plants into war production. Perhaps in his most famous role in WW2 history, he planned and personally led a daring bombing run on Tokyo during the early stages of the Pacific War. The B-25 bomber he was in crash-landed in rice paddies in Zhejiang, China, where he was assisted by Chinese Nationalist troops. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and received a promotion to brigadier general for the successful execution of the plan, which aroused American morale. His Medal of Honor citation was as follows:
ww2dbaseLater as a lieutenant general, he commanded air forces in nearly every theater of the war.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, he returned to the civilian aeronautics industry but continued to work closely with the United States military. In March 1951 he was appointed as a special assistant to the Air Force Chief of Staff and served as consultant in US Air Force ballistic missile and space program research projects. He officially retired from the Air Force on 28 Feb 1959. On 4 Apr 1985, he was promoted by the United States Congress to a four-star general on the Air Force retired list; his stars were pinned on his uniform by President Ronald Reagan and Senator Barry Goldwater.
ww2dbaseHe passed away in California in 1993 and now rests in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States.
ww2dbaseSources: Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2005
James Doolittle Interactive Map
James Doolittle Timeline
|14 Dec 1896
|James Doolittle was born in Alameda, California, United States.
|6 Oct 1917
|James Doolittle enlisted in the US Army Signal Corps Reserve as an aviation cadet.
|10 Nov 1917
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of private first class.
|24 Dec 1917
|James Doolittle married Josephine Daniels.
|11 Mar 1918
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant in the US Army Reserve.
|1 Jul 1920
|James Doolittle received a commission in the Regular Army component of the US Army.
|19 Sep 1920
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant in the US Army Air Service.
|17 Mar 1921
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the US Army Air Service.
|24 Sep 1929
|Flying a Consolidated NY-2 Husky biplane, equipped with a Sperry artificial horizon, directional gyro, and a Kollsman altimeter, Lieutenant James H. Doolittle USAAC, completed the first successful blind take-off circuit and landing at Mitchell field, Long Island, New York, United States.
|15 Feb 1930
|James Doolittle resigned from the US Army Air Service.
|5 Mar 1930
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of major in the US Army Reserve.
|11 Mar 1932
|James Doolittle set a new world record in air speed.
|1 Jul 1940
|The noted American aviator James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle was recalled to active service as a Major and began assisting US car manufacturers as they switched to aircraft production.
|2 Jan 1942
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the US Army for the task of planning an air raid against Japan.
|19 Apr 1942
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the US Army.
|29 Jun 1942
|James Doolittle was awarded the Order of the Cloud and Banner 3rd Class of the Republic of China by Song Meiling.
|10 Jun 1943
|Doolittle Raiders Jack Sims and James Doolittle piloted a B-26 Marauder bomber of 442nd Bombardment Squadron of US 320th Bombardment Group on a mission to attack Pantelleria, Italy.
|1 Nov 1943
|The US 15th Air Force was formed commanded by Major General James H. Doolittle with its headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia.
|6 Jan 1944
|James Doolittle, commanding officer of USAAF Eighth Air Force, ordered his fighter chief William Kepner to go on a fighter offensive, rather than focusing on bomber escort as he had instructed under the former commanding officer.
|13 Mar 1944
|US Eighth Air Force commander James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.
|26 Jun 1944
|Major General James Doolittle authorized Operation Aphrodite.
|5 Jan 1946
|James Doolittle entered reserve status.
|26 Mar 1946
|James Doolittle was requested by US Secretary of War Robert Patterson to head a commission on the relationships between officers and enlisted men in the US Army; the findings of the "Doolittle Board" was later criticized by officers and non-commissioned officers as counter-productive.
|10 May 1946
|James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in the US Army Reserve.
|18 Sep 1947
|James Doolittle transferred from the US Army Reserve to the US Air Force Reserve; he retained the rank of lieutenant general.
|28 Feb 1959
|James Doolittle retired from the Air Force Reserve.
|4 Apr 1985
|The US Congress promoted James Doolittle to the rank of general in the US Air Force Reserve.
|10 Apr 1985
|US President Ronald Reagan pinned the four-star insignia on James Doolittle's right shoulder and US Senator Barry Goldwater on his left; Doolittle had been promoted to the rank of general by the US Congress six days prior.
|27 Sep 1993
|James Doolittle passed away in Pebble Beach, California, United States.
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