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James Doolittle

Aviator / Military Leader / World War II Figure

Born: 14 December 1896
Died: 27 September 1993
Birthplace: Alameda, California
Best known as: Leader of the bomber attack on Tokyo in 1942
James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle became a national hero and received the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for leading a carrier-based bomber attack on Tokyo, Japan in April of 1942. The "Doolittle Raid" was the first attack on Japan by the U.S. in World War II, and occurred just four months after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Doolittle first earned his wings during World War I. A skilled pilot, he was famous on the air race circuit during the 1920s and '30s, and was the first person to fly across the United States in one day (in 1922 he flew from Florida to California in under fourteen hours). He earned graduate degrees in aeronautics and worked for Shell Oil before rejoining the Army Air Corps just before World War II. During the war Doolittle commanded air forces in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific. After the war he returned to an executive position with Shell Oil and served on several advisory committees on aeronautics and national security, one of the most celebrated military aviators of the twentieth century.
Extra credit: The story of Doolittle's raid on Japan was made into a popular wartime movie, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944).

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