Jack A. Sims, 0-421340, Colonel
Co-Pilot Crew 14

Graduated from Western Michigan University in 1940 with BA degree; received Master's degree from University of Chicago in 1949 while in service.  Entered military service June, 1940 and was rated as pilot and commissioned as Second Lieutenant in July, 1941.  After Tokyo Raid, he remained in India flying submarine patrol.  In August, 1942, was assigned to B-26 unit and served in Africa where he completed 40 combat missions.  Shot down over Salerno, Italy on 40th mission.  Graduated from Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.  Served in various Stateside assignments, Japan and England since World War II.  Retired July, 1968.  Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.

Born February 23, 1919, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Died June 9, 2007, Naples Florida

Inducted Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, October 11, 2003


Colonel Jack Ahren Sims of Naples, Florida passed away on June 9, 2007,
after a long illness. Sims was born on February 23, 1919 and was a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan. A highly decorated retired USAF officer and World War II veteran with 28 continuous years of service to his country, he was one of the original 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and, following that historic raid in 1942, he flew 40 additional combat missions in Europe. While still active in the post-war USAF, Colonel Sims held high-level Air Force positions including: Chief, Air Force Legislative Liaison Officer in the U.S. House of Representatives; the U.S. Embassy in London as Chief of the USAF-RAF Exchange Program; Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, USAF Headquarters, Washington D.C.

Jack was a member of the Naples Community Church, Naples Yacht Club, Retired Officer’s Association, USAF Association, Military Officers Association and The Order of Daedalians, an organization dedicated to ensuring America's preeminent position in air and space. He received the prestigious Paul Harris medal awarded by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. In 2003, he was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2006, at the opening of the WWII Memorial Center in Washington, he received the Audie Murphy Award for distinguished service in the U.S. military.

He is survived by Lee, his wife of more than 42 years and his children, Mrs. Kimberly Staley of Atlanta, GA, Mrs. Brigid Hansen of Portage, MI, Mr. John Sims of Richmond, VA and Mr. Michael Sims of Kansas City, MO. Grandchildren are Quincy, Kal, Erica, Emily, Sara and Michael and one great grandson, Gavin. Special friends Dottie Freeland and Stella Oreschnick.

Services will be held on Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 at 10 a.m. at the Bower Chapel, Moorings Park, with Dr. Kirt Anderson officiating. Interment will be at Naples Memorial Gardens, 111th Avenue, N., Naples.

Colonel Sims leaves a legacy to be remembered by all Americans and future generations to come. We who knew him will miss him as he leaves his family and friends to join his departed comrades-in-arms.

Memorial donations may be made to a charity of choice or to: Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum Foundation, P.O. 1565, Travis AFB, CA 94535.


Jack Ahren Sims, born on February 23rd, 1919, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan and a resident of Naples, Florida died on June 9, 2007, after a long illness. As one of 80 volunteers for an unknown and dangerous mission, Col. Sims (then a 2nd Lieut.) co-piloted one of the 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet on the morning of April 18, 1942. Major John Hilger, second in command to Lt. Col. “Jimmy” Doolittle for the historic Doolittle Raid, chose Sims as his co-pilot for the first bombing of the Japanese Home Islands, a mere four months after the Pearl Harbor attack and U.S. entry into WW II. The Raid raised the morale of the American people and our Allies, showing the Japanese people and their military chiefs that their homeland was no longer impregnable. The Raid eventually triggered the Battle of Midway, which ended Japan’s dominance in the Pacific War.

The Raid, memorialized in the book and movie "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo", and more recently, re-lived in significant part in the movie "Pearl Harbor", was an early defining moment in Sims' military career. Flying a fully loaded B-25 bomber off the deck of an aircraft carrier, in choppy seas and into enemy territory thousands of miles from home, had never been attempted before. Having to fly some 400 nautical miles further from the target than planned, because of an early sighting of several Japanese trawlers, meant Sims and the rest of the Raiders took off with almost certain knowledge that they had insufficient fuel to reach their intended destinations in unoccupied China. A crash landing in unknown territory was inevitable. Of the original Raiders, 10% never returned. Four others survived 40 months of solitary confinement in Japanese internment camps.

Sims and his crew flew practically at sea level at an altitude of 50 to 75 feet, and then along the coast of Japan's main island of Honshu. They then rose to a bombing altitude of 1,500 feet as they approached the city of Nagoya to avoid being hit by heavy flak and Japanese fighters. They successfully bombed their four military targets, including the Mitsubishi Aircraft Works.

After heading across the East China Sea, Sims and the rest of the 5 man crew were forced to bail out of the fuel-empty plane as it crashed into unoccupied China. Sims landed on the side of a mountain, causing him to be temporarily "knocked senseless". His pilot, Jack Hilger, suffered broken ribs. They were fortunate to be discovered by Chinese villagers, who at great risk to themselves, tended to them and eventually aided them to find their way to safe haven in Chungking. There they rendezvoused with Doolittle and other Raiders, and received personal decorations from Madame Chaing Kai-shek.

Sims was reassigned to North Africa, where he flew B-26 Marauder medium bombers. As Squadron Commander of the 444th Bomb Squadron, 320th Bomb Group, attached to the U.S. 12th Air Force under the command of his former Raider commander, now Brig. General "Jimmy" Doolittle, Sims flew 40 bombing missions. On more than a few of those missions, a successful return was uncertain until the moment of landing, having encountered direct hits from enemy fire and mechanical problems along the way.

Upon his return to the states, Sims continued to serve in the Air Force in various capacities, during which time he earned his MBA at the University of Chicago. He spent 4 yrs. at the Air Command and Staff School Air Force Base as a student and later as faculty. He then attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base. Sims held several unique and high profile assignments including being named to the position of Chief, USAF Liaison Officer in the U.S. House of Representatives, a position that he held for 6 years. He was later assigned to the U.S. Embassy in London as Chief of the USAF-RAF exchange program. Subsequently, he was back in Washington as Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, USAF Headquarters.

After 28 years of serving his country, Sims retired from the Air Force with a rank of full Colonel with a Command Pilot rating. His awards for valor and service include:
• Legion of Merit (2)
• Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
• Bronze Star
• Air Medal (8)
• Order of Celestial Cloud (Chinese award for the Doolittle-Tokyo Raid)
• European-African-Mideast Campaign
• Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three Battle Stars
• WWII Victory Medal
• Air Force Longevity Service Award (2)
• Army Commendation Medal
• National Defense Service Medal (2)
• Army Occupation Medal (Japan)
• United Nations Service Medal (Korea)
• Korean Service Medal
• American Defense Service Medal
• Air Force Good Conduct Medal

Various war uniforms, parachutes, weapons, diaries, and personal belongings related to Jack Sims' wartime service are on display at the Wright-Patterson U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH; the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum in Michigan; and the Military and Space Museum in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

In 1968, Jack Sims and his wife, Lee Adams Sims, moved to Naples, FL where they raised their youngest daughter, Kimberly, and became active members of their community. Jack Sims was a successful businessman and eventually became involved in real estate. His vision, dedication and hard work - skills all honed during his long military life - contributed to his success.

Sims was recently enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame as "an outstanding air and space pioneer", taking his place along side Henry Ford, Charles A. Lindbergh, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and other aviation pioneers. He also held officer-military pilot membership in the Order of Daedalians, an organization dedicated to ensuring America's preeminent position in air and space. Sims, with the help of A.B. Cook, wrote "First Over Japan", his autobiography, published by Southpointe Press. In Nov. 2006, at the opening of the WWII Memorial Center in Washington, he received the Audie Murphy award for distinguished service to the U.S. military.

“I’ve often thought about my wartime buddies (those still around and those long gone), the good times, the bad times, the 'adventure' and the lasting impact they had on me. It was the norm then for a 22-year-old kid to go off to the wars and come back a man, old beyond his years and somewhat wiser…it was a time when we matured quickly. The post-war Doolittle reunions recalled past experiences and the nostalgia was often painful and hard to take. Still, we met and we continue to meet and enjoy our camaraderie. Life has been good! I have been blessed with a wonderful wife who has always looked after me. Also have four children, six grandchildren and one great grandson – I’ve had an extraordinary life. How could one ask for more?” said Sims.

Col. Jack Sims leaves a legacy for all Americans to remember.

A.B. Cook


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