Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Flash from the Past: "He was small in stature, but scrappy..."

He was small in stature, but scrappy. The first eight years of his life were spent in Nome, Alaska, which was still a pretty lawless place at the time, and he learned how to defend him self by street fighting. Finally his mother had had enough, she insisted on moving the family to California, where he could get more education.

He continued to streetfight, and in fact got arrested for brawling, but things changed when one of his teachers took him aside and taught him fight properly... Then fighting became discipline rather than an emotional outburst. The advice he would remember in years to follow: "You get mad when you fight, and if you lose your temper, you're going to get licked sooner or later because you let your emotions rule your body instead of your head." With this advice in mind, he also went on to win high school boxing championships in the bantam weight class.

As a teenager, this Flash from the Past also became increasingly interested in mechanics. He saved up his money, and built his first glider plane based on a design he found in Popular Mechanics. When he failed to get the glider airborne from a small hill, he convinced a friend to drag him from a car, but this resulted in the demise of his plane and he was dragged 100 feet before his friend could stop. This didn't stop him, of course, and he salvaged some parts from the wreckage to built a second plane.

In school, he admitted he "didn't have a fondness for academic classes but did have a liking for the shop courses working on gasoline engines and wood lathes."

Who was this? This was James ("Jimmy") Harold Doolittle, a scientist, aeronautics engineer (masters and doctorate from MIT) who greatly advanced flying technology, and General in the United States Army. He set a world speed record for flying and was the first pilot to fly completely "blind", using only instruments to guide a plane. He also lead a harrowing bombing raid over Tokyo (Thirty Seconds over Tokyo) that had an enormous emotional effect on War in the Pacific. He would be one the most decorated soldiers of WWII and a most worthy recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On this Memorial Day Weekend, we'd like to pause and remember all the brave men and women and their families who have helped make and keep this country strong. Thank you, all.

Jimmy Doolittle Reminiscences About World War II
Wings of Valor II- The Doolittle Tokyo Raid

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