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Jonna Doolittle Hoppes is not a military spouse, but her connection to spouses began with her grandmother, Josephine, the wife of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle.

Jonna’s grandfather, who led the Tokyo Raid four months after Pearl Harbor, received the Medal of Honor. Jonna says her grandmother was also a hero, one who served without rank or medals throughout her husband’s long military career.

“I will always believe that my grandmother is a national hero,” Jonna said by e-mail from her home in California.

“My grandmother, like so many of her generation — no; let me rephrase that, like so many who chose to serve their country, including the men and women serving today — would never consider herself a hero,” Jonna said, “But her selflessness is characteristic of a true hero.”

“Part of her strength was her ability to let my grandfather do the things he needed to do, to allow him to “fly” while providing a secure base for his launch and return,” Jonna said. “But her gifts to those around her also contribute to my belief.”

While her husband was away during WWII, Josephine Doolittle, known as “Joe,” wrote a newspaper column for military wives. She also had her own radio program.

“During the war years, she spent her time writing and touring for the women who had loved ones fighting in Europe or the Pacific,” Jonna said. “Then, during that last year of the war, she spent her time working with the boys returning from the front, those boys who were fighting the demons that accompany combat.”

Jonna grew up as the granddaughter and daughter of career Air Force men. Her father, John Doolittle, followed his father’s footsteps and was also a decorated combat pilot. Her mom, Priscilla, was a career military wife.

“My mother, like my grandmother, had the philosophy, ‘bloom where you are planted.’ Every move was an adventure,” Jonna remembers.

“We also learned that we had choices. You can either make the best or worst of each move. It is a basic tenet of my life that my attitude makes all the difference. I can choose to make the best of where I live, the people I work with or any other facet of my life.”

The lives of her grandparents have influenced her in other ways. In 2005, Jonna authored a book, “Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle,” which she said she wrote from her grandmother’s point of view.

Now she travels the world to tell people about her grandparents, preserving their memory and the history they helped make.

I met Jonna when she came to Germany to speak at a luncheon organized by the Ramstein Officers Spouses Club. The luncheon was also a benefit, through sales of her book, for the Fisher Houses at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

She called the event a highlight of her trip to Europe. That experience and the spouses she met inspired her to seek opportunities for similar fundraising efforts, she said.

Above all, Jonna said she is continually inspired by her grandmother, who died in 1988.

“If the Egyptians are right and our souls are reincarnated until they become pure light, then my grandmother will not be back,” Jonna said. “She has left a mark on many people, my mother, my sister, her friends, and me.”

For more about Jonna, see her Web site at and related links on the Spouse Calls blog.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. See the Spouse Calls blog at


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