World War II American General Officers' Project

 

 
 
 

A project dedicated to the study of the American General Officer and the preservation of their original uniforms, flags and medals.

General James Doolittle

 

General Doolittle had already won national fame through the valiant raid on Japan.  The 1942 Doolittle raid was the first bombing attack on the Japanese homeland during W.W.II. While the raid caused little damage the ripple effect was immeasurable. Doolittle who was now a brigadier general was recommended by Air Force Chief of Staff General Hap Arnold to be the commander of the new 12th Air Force.   The 12th Air Force was to provide air support for the invasion of North Africa.  General George Patton was slated to be the ground commander while General Eisenhower would be the overall commander.  General Arnold recommended Doolittle, but Eisenhower had the final say.

 Well aware of Doolittle and his air antics Eisenhower was concerned, could Doolittle make the jump from racing pilot to air commander? A meeting with Eisenhower on August 7, 1942 in Europe did not go as Doolittle hoped.  In Doolittle’s own words “I had blown it” which was the absolute truth. Eisenhower immediately wired General Arnold and asked for someone other than Doolittle to lead the 12th. Both General Arnold and General Marshall the  Army Chief of Staff stated Eisenhower could have any air commander he wanted but they still suggested Doolittle. With that response Eisenhower reluctantly accepted Doolittle as the 12th Air Force Commander. 

The results of the 12th Air Force proved that Eisenhower made the correct decision. When the North African campaign ended, with the Axis surrender in May of 1943, the 12th Air Force had dropped over 11 thousand tons of bombs, shot down 1304 enemy air craft and sank 76 ships. All accomplished under the command of General Doolittle, but the highlight of the campaign for General Doolittle was a note written to him from General Eisenhower stating, “President Roosevelt has asked that I convey his thanks for the superb job you have done in the campaign. I am profoundly grateful to you and all portions of your command for having carried out their assigned tasks so magnificently as to earn this commendation from the President.”  Doolittle had earned the respect not only of Eisenhower but of the whole Army Air Corps. Doolittle's leadership and ability would take him to command the 15th and then the 8th Air Force and General James Doolittle would become one of the best known Airmen in American history

 

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