The Big Red Rooster

Are you kidding me? The Big Red Rooster? No one I knew was likely to call General Doolittle by his nickname. We preferred to call him: “General”

We are talking about General Gordon Doolittle… Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard… not General Jimmy Doolittle… famous aviation pioneer.

Recently I found a biography about Gordon Doolittle posted on a website titled: “Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor” ( The biography mentioned his nickname came from his thick red hair. Ignore the video… it is about Jimmy Doolittle… same last name, easy mistake to make.

The General was a legendary character in Oregon aviation history. Everyone had their own favorite story about him. I had several.

One time a gang of us were standing around in Operations and the General walked in. As was customary someone called for “attention” to which the General replied “As you were” so I resumed my stance, leaning with my back against the wall. After a moment the General walked over and stood in front of me. Then he stepped on my toes! I straighten up and he stepped on my toes again. This time I came to attention… he smiled and walked away without saying a word. Lesson learned.

Another time: I stopped by the Officers Club after work. Usually the bar was inhabited by a group of pilots “debriefing” after a mission. As the Chief of Safety, I liked to listen to the war stories told by pilots when their tongues were loosened by a beer or two. Sometimes interesting information slipped out.

As luck would have it General Doolittle was the only person at the bar. I thought it polite to say hello. In casual conversation, he mentioned that when he became a commander he thought it wise to choose a command philosophy. He chose to be a tyrant.

What now? How do I respond to this revelation? Agree? Disagree? Was this a test?

I chose to ask a question. What benefits did he see from being a tyrant?

He admitted that he liked to test people. How they responded to a tyrant was important. If you believed he was wrong, speak up, but you had better be correct. If you were wrong, life was going to be miserable.

I have always believed his middle initial was: “O.” Think about it… G. O. D.

Have you ever received a memo signed by GOD?

Story ByLarry

ORANG 1960-85

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