Major General James H. Doolittle -I10009
"If you men have any idea that this isn't the most dangerous thing you've ever been on, don't even start this training period. You can drop out now. There isn't much sense wasting time and money training men who aren't going through with this thing. It's perfectly all right for any of you to drop out." Lt Col James Doolittle to future Doolittle Raiders
Today, James Doolittle is best known for the "Raid on Tokyo" or "Doolittle's Raid". Before WWII, Doolittle was the American second only to Charles Lindbergh in aviation fame. In 1922, Doolittle was the first pilot to make a trans-continental flight in less than 24 hours. He set a new speed record for seaplanes of 245 miles per hour in 1925. In 1927, he became the first pilot to execute the outside loop. Doolittle was the first pilot to fly blind, using only instruments in 1929. During the coming war, Doolittle's aviation deeds gave his men the confidence to fly his "push the envelope" missions.
In July 1, 1940, James Doolittle left civilian life for a job that paid one-tenth of what he was used to earning - active duty reservist. Doolittle believed the US would be pulled into a war and he wanted to help.
In 1942, President Roosevelt decided to bring the war to the "Land of the Rising Sun". Doolittle was brought in as the consultant to plan and train men to use the deck of a ship as a base to bomb Tokyo.
On April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25 medium bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Doolittle flew the first plane off the deck. Before departure, the flight crews knew they didn't have enough fuel to land at a safe airfield. They took off anyway.
On return, Doolittle was presented the Medal of Honor from the President and promoted two grades to Brigadier General.