'To me, he was just Gramps'
By Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley , 23rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 19, 2011
DOUGLAS, Ga. -- Jonna Doolittle Hoppes always knew her grandfather Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle was well-known, but it took growing up for her to realize what his contributions meant to history.
"To me, he was just Gramps," said Hoppes. "He was a wonderful grandfather. Even my two daughters say, 'He was fun, he played with us, he made us laugh.' I started giving presentations because I wanted to protect his memory."
Hoppes visited the World War II Flight Training Museum Oct. 18 to meet veterans of the 63rd Flying Training Detachment, all who had their primary pilot training at Douglas during WWII.
"We invited her because these veterans are people who love aviation," said Alan Carter, Museum board member, "and she's someone who was close to one of the most famous names in aviation history. We just couldn't pass up this opportunity to have her meet these pilots and share her grandfather's story."
Hoppes is enthusiastic about sharing General Doolittle's story and has a specific goal in mind when she gives her presentations.
"My passion is meeting people who made history and those who are still making history," she said. "There are so many people from this generation who are stepping up just like people did during WWII, and they are heroes.
"They say, 'I was just doing my job,' and to them it's not a big deal," she said. "But to civilians who don't deal with the military every day, it is a big deal. The reason I do what I do is to encourage everyone to record their stories."
Hoppes added that while her grandfather's story is a flashy example of a veteran's story, it's important to record the stories of veterans from all wars and conflicts.
"It's important to remember how much it costs to have the freedoms and liberties we have today, and the price is paid for them with human sacrifice," she said.
She is encouraging everyone to preserve these stories by participating in the Veterans History Project, which is being hosted by the Library of Congress. More information about collecting the firsthand accounts from veterans so the public can "better understand the realities of war" can be found at http://www.loc.gov/vets/about.html.