General James H. Doolittle was born in Alameda, California, on December 14, 1896. His parents then moved to Nome, Alaska, where he stayed until 1908. After high school and college in California, he enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in 1917. He received his doctorate in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1925. He stayed in the Army Air Reserves after he left the military in 1930 and distinguished himself by flying experimental aircraft and winning the Bendix Trophy for setting a transcontinental flying record. In 1940, Major Doolittle was called back into the Army Air Corps as a member of the staff of General "Hap" Arnold. After leading the Tokyo Raiders as a lieutenant colonel in 1942, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the Northwest Africa Strategic Air Force. In November 1943, he took command of the 15th Air Force. In January 1944, he became the commander of Eighth Air Force. President Reagan awarded him a fourth star on June 13, 1985.
After the war, Doolittle left military service, but remained involved with aircraft and space ventures. He was chairman of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 1955 through 1958 as well as chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from 1956 to 1958. He was also active in the Air Force Association and visited the Air Force Academy several times. Doolittle Raider goblets formerly displayed at USAFA are now on exhibit at National Museum of the Air Force, Ohio. At the Air Force Academy, the Association of Graduates building is named Doolittle Hall in his honor. General Doolittle died on September 17, 1993, in California.
In 2007 The Friends sponsored a project to select photographs from albums in the Doolittle Collection.