104-Year-Old WWII Pilot Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

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World War II disrupted the lives of millions of Americans as they were sent into battle in Europe and the Pacific. The war ended in 1945, but the United States still looks to honor its valued veterans.

This past Veterans Day, the United States Congress awarded Frank Doolittle with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award from the legislative branch.

Frank Doolittle is a 104-year-old man from Bainbridge. He served in the Civil Air Patrol during the war. Due to his age at the time (30), Doolittle was turned down by the draft board on three occassions.

He joined the Civil Air Patrol as a navigation and meteorology instructor. His duties eventually went beyond teaching. He was a part of civilian pilots tasked with protecting the United States coast from potential German U-Boat invasions.

Doolittle and his squadron performed their job as secretly as possible. They never wore uniforms and flew planes which were near undetectable from the water. He would leave each evening between 7pm and 9 pm and could not tell his wife to where he was going.

According to the Civil Air Patrol’s Congressional Gold Medal website, Doolittle and 200,000 other volunteers flew a combined 750,000 hours of service during the war, giving up their free time for their country.

Due to the limited amount of technology at the time (no cell phones), the squadron had to call him at the saw mill at which he worked to reach him. He said, “You had to be where they could call you.” Doolittle was always on call and could not take vacations without explicitly informing his squadron.

Col. Tom Carello of the Civil Air Patrol said of Doolittle at the ceramony, “[Frank] is a valued member in a long line of Civil Air Patrol members and part of a legacy that remains strong and ready to serve today and into the future.” More than 70 years later, he received recognition for his brave actions.