Skip to comments.Stewart's Heroism Caught On Pages (BGen.James Stewart USAFR Preserved Our Freedoms with Conviction)
Posted on 05/04/2005 7:09:07 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
"Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot" by Starr Smith
Sixty-some years ago, when President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Germany and Japan, almost every American who was able became involved.
Some left their children at home in the effort to make planes and ships in factories. Some left their families and traveled across the country and across the world.
One left an Academy Award-winning career to do something that he felt he needed to do, and in "Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot" by Starr Smith (c.2005, Zenith Press), you'll read about that man and his heroism.
James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Penn., his parents' eldest child and only son.
Young Jimmy's father had served in the Spanish-American War and in World War I, and, as the owner of the town's hardware store; he hoped that his son would go into the family business. Instead, Jimmy went to college and found that he loved acting. In 1935, Stewart followed his friend and roommate Henry Fonda to Hollywood.
Airplanes had always been one of Jimmy's big fascinations, and he spent hours studying them, building models, and taking flying lessons. Because of his family's patriotic background, when it became obvious that war was imminent, Stewart decided to enlist in the Army.
His Hollywood studio boss, Louis B. Mayer, tried to talk Stewart out of his plans, but fate took matters out of Mayer's hands: Jimmy was drafted. When the Army turned him down, Stewart was undeterred. He decided to volunteer, and in March of 1941, Private James Stewart reported for duty at Fort MacArthur, Calif.
Because of his interest in flying and his pilot experience, he was assigned to the Army Air Corps (later, the U.S. Air Force).
Although the Army apparently would have been happy to have a big-name celebrity to make public appearances on its behalf, Stewart asked repeatedly for combat assignments.
Finally, he was granted his wish and in November 1943 he took his squadron to the 445th Station at Tibenham, England where he became a decorated war hero, a bomber pilot, and a trusted and admired leader.
In "Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot," author Starr Smith has seamlessly done something seemingly impossible: he gently melds together flashy Hollywood stories with reminisces of people who knew Jimmy Stewart as just a "regular" guy.
I've seen dozens of movies that starred Jimmy Stewart, but I didn't know that he had flown missions in Vietnam. I wasn't aware that he eventually joined the Air Force Reserve, and I didn't know that when he died, he had attained the rank of brigadier general and was buried with full military honors.
There are lots of hard facts in this book that may be difficult to follow if you're a casual reader, and if you're looking for a snazzy, gossipy Hollywood-type biography, this is not the book for you. If you're a World War II veteran or a history buff, though, "Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot" is going to show you how a reel hero became a real hero.
Schlichenmeyer reviews books for the Pahrump Valley Times from her home in Wisconsin.
The film, Strategic Air Command, circa 1955 with June Allyson; was based loosely on Stewart's life, as well as the lives of several close friends serving with him. The movie covers the historical build-up of SAC under the leadership of Curtis Lemay. Time frame: Post WWII "when liberals had stripped the country of its' defenses, traitors had given the a-bomb to the reds and China had been sold out. This film will especially resonate even though it was made so long ago to those guarding the new frontier of freedom in Iraq," wrote a reviewer.
He began flying combat missions and on Mar. 31, 1944 was appointed Operations Officer of the 453d Bomb Group and, subsequently, Chief of Staff of the 2d Combat wing, 2d Air Division of the 8th Air Force. Stewart ended the war with 20 combat missions. He remained in the USAF Reserve and was promoted to Brigadier General on Jul. 23, 1959. He retired on May 31, 1968.
Lt. Gen. Valin, Chief of Staff, French Air Force,
Awarding Croix De Guerre with palm to Col. Stewart for exceptional services in the liberation.
Maj. Jimmy Stewart confers with a B-24 crew member.
Brig. Gen. James M. Stewart, USAF Reserve.
Talking over the final details of a mission prior to takeoff.
Not that was a Cool Guy!
Wonder who of the current crop of metrosexuals in Hollywierd would be man enough to do what Stewart did.
Jimmy Stewart is my all time favorite actor, what a man, they don't make them like him anymore.
Thanks for posting that. I had no idea the Jimmy Stewart actually flew in the Vietnam War.
CLASS AND COURAGE . . . .
NOT COMMON IN HOLLYWOOD FOR MANY YEARS . . . .
My husband was in B-52's. We loved Jimmy Stewart. Some of my husband's crew mates got to meet him while he walking his dog in the late 80's (in LA). They told him they were AF B-52 guys and he stood and talked with them for most of an hour. They said he was as gracious in real life as he appeared on screen. I doubt there is anyone in Hollywood to compare to him today.
I am so glad you posted this for us. I'm PING'ing a bunch of good folks for interest.
I knew of COL James Stewart, but hadn't realized he made flag rank before passing on. Noe did I know he flew missions in 'Nam.
I long ago gave up hope that anyone in the entertainment industry might ever be like this man, or others like him: Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Rosie Clooney, Mickey Rooney, Audie Murphy, and so many others who either wore the uniform, or backed us to the hilt.
Their generation is gone. And I grieve at what we're left with today. I hate and distrust Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
I vote for Mel Gibson, but without the metrosexual label.
Thanks for the ping! Now I know a whole lot more about the Jimmy Stewart that I loved as an actor! Now I love him as a HERO!
A BUMP to Heaven for Mr. Stewart! I thank him, too.
Hollywood hero ping.
Me too Sarge. Me too.
OMG I didn't know ole Jimmy Stewart serve during Vietnam war
Guys that generation dying off
All we getting rif raff of the 1960 generation in Hollywood
We certainly have a lot of Aholes out there, but they are not all imperfect.
The biggest baseball choke of all time Roger Clemons has contributed some of his time to our Troops. I gotta give him credit.
Robin Williams has been outstanding with his free time. He has been to Iraq and other far points during the last couple of years in order to entertain our Troops. Bless him for that despite his personal politics.
There are others who share time. Some of my local sports heroes have gone out of their way in in order to lift up the spirit of our Troops.
Who but a diehard Patriot fan ever heard of Larry Izzo?