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From the Archives: Patton and Doolittle return home

June 9, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr., stands during welcome home procession on Broadway in downto
June 9, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr., stands during welcome home procession on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

Following the World War II victory in Europe over Germany, but before the surrender of Japan, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. and Lt. Gen. James Doolittle arrived at Los Angeles Municipal Airport for a welcome home tour.

Writer Walter Cochane reported in the June 10, 1945, Los Angeles Times:

George Patton and Jimmy Doolittle came home to Los Angeles yesterday – and Los Angeles took them to her arms.

From the split second that their C-54 Skymaster planes – three of them – roared over the Municipal Airport, they were given thunderous welcomes in the style to which only conquerors are accustomed.

June 9, 1945: After arrival in Los Angeles from Denver, mayor Fletcher Bowron, left, welcomes Gen. G
June 9, 1945: After arrival in Los Angeles from Denver, Mayor Fletcher Bowron, left, welcomes Gen. George S. Patton Jr., Anne Patton, the general's sister, and Lt. Gen. James Doolittle. Los Angeles Times

As Gen. George S. Patton's plane rolled to a stop at the airport, scores of civic officials led by Mayor [Fletcher] Bowron, Army generals and the enlisted men right on down to the buck privates went to the side of the ship and welcomed him home.

Attired in shiny steel helmet and bearing the four stars of his high rank, polished boots and a studded pistol, the leader of America's victorious 3rd Army stepped from the plane and snapped his salute to the "old home town.”

"On his face was the grim grin of the conqueror….

June 9, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr., tips his helmet to crowd during welcome home parade on Broa
June 9, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr., left, doffs his helmet to the crowd during a welcome home parade on Broadway in Los Angeles. Lt. Gen. James Doolittle waves during the parade. Los Angeles Times

After only a brief stop at the airport–until all the heroes could climb into command cars and jeeps provided for each one–there began the journey to Pico Blvd. and Broadway….

Strung all along the line – over the highways to City Hall – it was estimated that 1,000,000 persons – the occupants of the homes for which the generals and their men fought – waved their shouts of greetings to the soldiers.

Both generals had strong ties to Southern California. Patton was born Nov. 11, 1885, in San Marino. Doolittle was born Dec. 14, 1896, in Alameda, near Oakland, but grew up in Los Angeles.

On June 10, the generals toured several cities around Southern California. During the visit Patton gave several speeches, believed to be the only time he addressed large numbers of American civilians. The Times reported that Patton's speeches were "peppered with profanity -- but mild to those who soldiered with him."

Patton was injured in a Dec. 9, 1945, vehicle accident near Mannheim, Germany. He died from his injures on Dec. 21.

Doolittle died on Sep. 27, 1993, at the age of 96. Here is the link to the Los Angeles Times' 1993 Gen. James Doolittle obituary.

This post was originally published on June 9, 2012.

June 9, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr., stops jeep during parade to shake hands with soldier who ha
June 9, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr. stops his jeep during the parade to shake hands with soldier who had served in his command during World War II. The wounded veteran disappeared back into crowd before he could be identified. Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times
June 9, 1945: Photographers swarm Gen. George S. Patton Jr., as he embraces Mrs. Frances P. Graves,
June 9, 1945: Photographers swarm Gen. George S. Patton Jr. as he embraces Mrs. Frances P. Graves, mother of Lt. Francis P. Graves Jr., Patton's aide, at the airport on his arrival. Lt. Graves stands to Patton's right. Los Angeles Times
June 10, 1945: Gen. George s. Patton Jr., leads Lt. Gen. James Doolittle out of San Marino City Hall
June 10, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr. leads Lt. Gen. James Doolittle out of San Marino City Hall after welcome home ceremonies. Patton was born in San Marino on Nov. 11, 1885. John Malmin / Los Angeles Times
June 10, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr., speaks to patients at Pasadena Army Regional Hospital. Thi
June 10, 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr. speaks to patients at Pasadena Army Regional Hospital. John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here


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