(General) Doolittle Did a Lot, and So Have Many Others


This is the eighth in a collection of newspaper ads from United Technologies that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the original ad.

Who was this skylarking
exuberant young eagle
who raced across the sky
and into the hearts
of people everywhere?
His name, a contradiction,
was Doolittle.
He did a lot.
Stunt flier.
Racing king.
First to cross
the country in less
than 12 hours.
First to make
an instrument flight.
Leader of the daring
Tokyo raid.
Master strategist who
helped bring down Hitler.
Business executive.
Family man.
Advisor to Presidents,
Holder of the Medal of Honor.
Truly America’s
Mr. Aviation.
Last month, he was
promoted to four-star
We congratulate
General James H. Doolittle,
and salute him for
a lifetime of doing
everything he could do
to make the earth
a better place
to live.

The ad is a tribute to General Jimmy Doolittle who at the time was promoted by Congress to the rank of full 4-star General (O-10) on the U.S. Air Force retired list.

I must admit when I went back to read this particular ad from 1985, I did not know who General Doolittle was. Names like Eisenhower, Patton, and MacArthur easily come to mind when I think of heroes of World War II, but Doolittle’s name did not ring a bell.

According to Wikipedia, Doolittle was an American aviation pioneer. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor and leadership as commander of the Doolittle Raid while a Lieutenant Colonel.

As I read through what he accomplished, I realized what an amazing man Doolittle was, and just as important to America’s success in the war as the previously mentioned men.

And so it made me wonder about other people who have accomplished great things, but may not be as well known for their efforts as others.

I am currently reading “Becoming Steve Jobs”, another fascinating look at one of my heroes. However, the book also looks at other people who were just as critical in helping Apple stage its amazing comeback in the late 1990s. For example, have you ever heard of Fred Anderson?

Fred became the CFO at Apple in the mid-1990s, and had primary responsibility for getting Apple on stable financial footing. Doing so enabled the company to begin executing on its strategic plan. Without that stability, it is likely Apple would have never survived those difficult times.

Another example I recall was being at the funeral for a father of one of my friends. As I listened to the eulogy, I was amazed at how much this person had accomplished, and I had no idea about any of it.

I’m slowly learning that everyone has a story, and the better I can learn and acknowledge such stories, the richer my life will be.


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