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Born on December 14, 1896, in Alameda, California, Doolittle grew up there and in Nome, Alaska. In October 1917 he enlisted in the army reserve. Assigned to the Signal Corps, he served as a flying instructor during World War I, was commissioned first lieutenant in the Air Service, regular army, in July 1920, and became deeply involved in the development of military aviation. On September 24, 1922, he made the first transcontinental flight in under 24 hours. He was sent by the army to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for advanced engineering studies. Assigned to test-facility stations, he spent five more years in diverse phases of aviation, winning a number of trophy races, demonstrating aircraft in South America, and in September 1929 making the first successful test of blind, instrument-controlled landing techniques. He left the Army but continued to race, winning the Harmon trophy in 1930 and the Bendix in 1931 and setting a world speed record in 1932. He served on various government and military consultative boards during this period.
Shortly before US entry into World War II, he returned to active duty as a major with the Army Air Corps. After a tour of industrial plants then converting to war production, he joined A.A.C. headquarters for an extended period of planning that bore spectacular results on April 18, 1942. from the deck of the carrier Hornet, Doolittle, then a lieutenant colonel, led a flight of 16 B-25 bombers on a daring raid over Japan, hitting targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, and other cities, scoring a huge victory.
One of Doolittle's aircraft taking off from the deck of the Hornet,
April 18, 1942 (NARA File No. 80-G-1196).
From January 1944 to September 1945, he directed intensive strategic bombing of Germany. In 1945, when air operations ended in the European theater, he moved with the Eighth Air Force to Okinawa in the Pacific. In May 1946 he returned to reserve status and civilian life. He served on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from 1948 to 1958, the Air Force Science Advisory Board, and the President's Science Advisory Committee. Gen. Doolittle retired from the Air Force and returned to civilian life in 1959, but remained active in the aerospace industry. He continued to serve on a great many advisory boards and committees on aerospace, intelligence and national security.
From Leadership: 2000 And Beyond, Vol. I, Civil Air Patrol, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
General Doolittle passed away on September 27, 1993 in Pebble Beach, California.
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