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Finding aid of the Howard T. Douglas Records
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Diary, appointments and awards, letters of condolence, writings, and published and newspaper accounts, 1917-1921, relating to the life and career of Howard T. Douglas and to the Alaska Flying Expedition of 1920.
Howard Thomas Douglas was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on 1 October 1887, the second son and youngest of the four children of Summerfield Douglas (1847-1927) and his wife, Rebecca Clark (1849-1913). The family immigrated to the United States in 1895, and appears in the 1900 census in Lincoln Township, Pembina County, North Dakota, where Summerfield is listed as a farmer. By the time of the 1910 census, the family had settled in Covina, California, where Summerfield worked as a salesman for the Covina Realty Company. Howard graduated from Covina Union High School and the University of California at Berkeley. He enlisted as a private in the United States Army in January 1917, joining a coast artillery unit in Covina. In May 1917, after the United States declaration of war, he was sent to the first officer's training school at the Presidio in San Francisco, where he received his commission as a first lieutenant of infantry, U.S.R., at the end of the month. In July 1917, he was called to active duty, and upon finishing training camp the following month proceeded via Camp Lewis, American Lake, Washington, to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he received his first instruction in aerial observation. In December 1917, he proceeded to France where he served as an aerial observation officer, where he served with distinction, being twice recommended for promotion to Major, and receiving the Distinguished Service Medal. Following the armistice he was placed in command of an aviation unit in Germany; he returned to the United States in the summer of 1919. He then entered the Regular Army with the rank of Captain, and was attached to General Mitchell, Chief of Air Service. He served as Mitchell's aid and flying companion, directing a cross-country flight and playing a vital role in the Alaska flying expedition of 1920. He helped write the War Department's first aviation manual. He was drowned in the Chesapeake Bay, off Tangier Island, on June 22, 1921, during a practice bombing raid on the hulk of the battleship San Marcos, after his plane collided with another flown by Lieutenant Marll J. Plumb. His body was not recovered until July 1, 1921. He was buried in Oakdale Cemetery, Covina, on 12 July 1921.
1 archives half-carton + 1 oversize box (0.2 linear foot).
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Collection open for research.