Doolittle file photo [652]

James Doolittle

Given NameJames
Born14 Dec 1896
Died27 Sep 1993
CountryUnited States


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:

"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."

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


Brigadier General Doolittle posing with a globe, circa 1942James Doolittle with his crew shortly before the Doolittle Raid against Japan, Apr 1942Doolittle wiring a Japanese medal to a bomb, Apr 1942, 1 of 2Doolittle wiring a Japanese medal to a bomb, Apr 1942, 2 of 2
See all 38 photographs of James Doolittle

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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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Tom Jackson says:
5 Dec 2011 03:38:46 PM

Jimmy Doolittle was a great leader.He had more guts and common sense than lots of the leaders of WW2.Also one of the greatest and instinctive fliers of all time.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
17 Apr 2014 08:58:44 AM

Even after his official retirement 'Jimmy' Doolittle continued to work tirelessly as an aviation consultant and served on numerous committees promoting the US Air Force in particular. Until his health began to fail he famously continued to drive daily to his office in Los Angeles from his home in Santa Monica.
3. Aaron rasey says:
2 Sep 2014 05:07:55 AM

james h. doolittle was a great man also he was my great great grandfather
4. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2016 11:40:42 AM

It was okay I guess to much to read

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Search WW2DB
More on James Doolittle
Event(s) Participated:
» Doolittle Raid
» Operation Torch
» Conclusion of the Desert War
» Battle of Pantelleria and Pelagie Islands

Associated Aircraft:
» B-25 Mitchell

Related Books:
» Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

James Doolittle Photo Gallery
Brigadier General Doolittle posing with a globe, circa 1942
See all 38 photographs of James Doolittle

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