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Memorandum for General Arnold
May 12, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Have one of your people draft what you think should be the citation for a Medal of Honor for Doolittle.1 It should be ready at the time of his return, having had prior approval by the President. It will be necessary to keep this citation secret for a long time. However, the fact of the award of the Medal of Honor should be made public the day it becomes known that Doolittle is in town. I wish to arrange the affair so that he is kept under cover until received by the President and decorated.
We should have prepared in advance a press release of the matter and that can best be done in your office. We also should have prepared a proposed statement by Doolittle, which may take the place of the press release—except as to the Medal of Honor and reception by the President. It is quite probable that Doolittle would wish to modify the statement, but as speed will be necessary we should have a rough draft prepared in advance.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. On April 18 Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle had led a force of sixteen B-25s that took off from the carrier Hornet and dropped bombs on Tokyo and other targets in Japan. The force then proceeded to China where the crews crash-landed or parachuted from their aircraft. Doolittle was promoted to brigadier general upon returning to the United States. His Medal of Honor citation recognized his conspicuous leadership in the face of “the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea.” (The draft citation is in NA/RG 165 [OCS, 201 Doolittle].)
2. Roosevelt presented the medal to Doolittle in a surprise ceremony on May 19.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 197.