The MIT Security Studies Program has a proud history of communication with and support for the members of our armed services. Since 1994, under the directorship of Prof. Harvey Sapolsky, the program has held an annual event to honor the memory of MIT alum and WWII hero James (Jimmy) Doolittle.
In July 1923, after serving as a test pilot and aeronautical engineer at McCook Field, Ohio, Doolittle entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning his master's degree in 1924. He received his SM degree in 1924. He went on in 1925 to get the first Ph.D. in Aeronautics awarded by MIT.
On April 18, 1942, then Lt. Col Doolittle and 79 other volunteers launched 16 B25 bombers from the USS Hornet, to attack Japan. Of the 80 men who took part in the raid, three were killed during the mission, five were interned in Russia and eight became prisoners of war in Japan. Gen. Doolittle bailed out over China. He received the Medal of Honor for leading the raid and was promoted from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general, skipping the rank of colonel.
General Doolittle remains the only American to receive both the country's highest military and civilian honors - the Medal of Honor and the Medal of Freedom. The Doolittle Award Dinner honors that spirit by presenting the James Doolittle Award for each year to a person, either military or civilian, who has made significant contributions to the advancement of US Air Power.
Past award recipients include several US Air Force Chiefs of Staff, Air Force generals, and academic and other civilian luminaries.
In 2017, Pierre (MIT SB 1988) and Amy Chao made a generous pledge to the Security Studies Program in support of the Doolittle Award. Mr. Chao, who has had an active career in the aerospace/defense industry, earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Management Science from MIT. The endowment will allow SSP to sustain the Doolittle award event, ensuring that future MIT graduate students and fellows are acquainted with the contribution that science and engineering can make to national security.
2022 Doolittle Award presentation