Army Air Forces Veteran James Willard Doty is today's Veteran of the day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran James Willard Doty, who served as a bombardier in the Pacific during World War II.

While still in high school, James Willard Doty enlisted early with the Army Air Corps cadet program to become a pilot. After passing the qualification exams and turning 18, Doty went for pilot and basic training at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After two months training at Keesler Field, Doty went to Tyndall Field, Florida, where he received additional training in gunnery.

Following his time in Florida, Doty went to a college training detachment at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. There, he studied for a semester in mathematics and physics. After finishing his college training, Doty went to classification center in Nashville and passed every test to qualify as a pilot except the height requirement. At 5 feet, 4 inches tall, he opted to become a bombardier.

Doty then went to Maxwell Field, Alabama, and Carlsbad, New Mexico, for bombardier training. After completing the three-month course, Doty went to Walla Walla, Washington, for crew assignment. There he spent two months running mock missions before receiving orders.

Doty and his crew deployed to the Philippine Island of Leyte and from there were sent to Samar, Indonesia, where they conducted six combat operations against Japanese forces in and around the Philippines. During these missions, Doty and his crew came under heavy anti-aircraft fire.

Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, Doty and his crew continued to fly patrol missions over the Philippines and China. On their return to the U.S., they nearly crashed after running out of fuel between Hawaii and California. After debating whether to bail, they decided to try and make the airfield and managed to land safely.

Doty left the service in 1946 and returned to Tennessee, where he earned a degree in engineering at the University of Tennessee.

We honor his service.

More of his story can be found at:

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at


Editor: Jenna Robles

Fact checker: Tavia Wager

Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon

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Published on May. 21, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 137


  1. Senior Veterans Care Network June 2, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    We honor the service of James Willard Doty.

  2. Tracy May 30, 2021 at 10:28 am

    James Willard Doty is my father. He passed away on January 14, 2021. Because it is Memorial Day, I was just searching for his Veterans History Project and ran across your feature story from May 21, the day before his birthday. Thank you so much for featuring him. He was an amazing man, and I miss him very much.

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