Skip to comments.Stamp honors James Stewart [decorated World War II bomber pilot ]
Posted on 08/16/2007 2:35:19 PM PDT by Dubya
Lots of actors play war heroes on the screen. James Stewart was one in real life.
A decorated World War II bomber pilot who returned from battle to star in "It's A Wonderful Life," Stewart will be commemorated on a new 41-cent postage stamp being released Friday.
Stewart flew 20 bombing missions over Germany, including one over Berlin, after wrangling combat duty when commanders would have preferred to use a movie star for morale building work at home.
As a squadron commander, Stewart flew many dangerous missions when he could have sent others instead, recalled Robbie Robinson, a sergeant who was an engineer-gunner in Stewart's B-24 squadron.
But while Stewart rose to colonel during the war and later retired as a brigadier general in the reserves, he didn't stand on ceremony.
Robinson, of Collierville, Tenn., recalled one time when a creative tail gunner managed to "liberate" a keg of beer from the officer's club.
That evening, Stewart wandered into a hut where some men were resting, picked up a cup, walked over to the "hidden" keg, poured himself a beer and sat back and drank it slowly, relaxing in a chair.
"We were shaking in our boots," Robinson said.
But Stewart merely got up, wiped out the cup, asked the men to keep an eye out for a missing keg of beer, and left.
Another time, Robinson recalled in a telephone interview, his plane landed behind another that was stuck on the end of the runway, nearly clipping it's tail.
After watching this Stewart rubbed his chin and commented: "Ye Gods, sergeant, somebody's going to get hurt in one of these things."
"Once in your lifetime someone crosses your path you can never forget, and that was Jimmy Stewart," Robinson concluded.
This is the 13th stamp in the "Legends of Hollywood" series and will be dedicated in ceremonies at Universal Studios, Hollywood, Calif.
"It's our privilege to pay tribute to James Stewart, a fantastic actor, a great gentleman, a brave soldier, and an inspirational human being who truly led a wonderful life," Alan C. Kessler, vice chairman of the postal governing board, said in a statement.
Other highlights from Stewart's career include the movies "Rear Window," "Vertigo" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much," all directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Stewart played a country lawyer in "Anatomy of a Murder" and played a lawyer again in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a Western released in 1962.
He won an Oscar for best actor in "Philadelphia Story" in 1940.
Stewart died on July 2, 1997.
Lordy Lordy what oh what happen to the real men actors of yesterday...who all loved everything about America.
Don Adams, ‘Agent 86’ of ‘Get Smart’ fame, USMC in World War Two, fought at Guadalcanal. Evac’ed with Blackwater Fever, possibly also wounded.
James Doohan, ‘Scotty’ from ‘Star Trek’. Canadian artillery officer, landed on D-Day. Wounded, multiple hits from a German machine gun. Recovered, and became a pilot-observer. Lost part of a finger in combat, which he hid- mostly successfully- from the camera in his later acting career.
My own father experienced a similar disappointment when he was washed out of the Navy Air Corps, but ended up serving as the communications officer on a landing ship. He saw Iwo Jima up close and personal, but talked little about it.
Ted Knight! 5 bronze Stars from WWII. Second highest decorated soldier of WWII next to Audey Murphy!
Not to put too fine a point on it, but wasn’t Eddie Albert a landing craft “driver” in one or more of the most horrendous Pacific island invasions?
Aside from the “Hollywood” crowd, I believe Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers, of children’s television fame, were decorated combat veterans.
Five Bronze Stars is remarkable ... but hardly qualifies Ted Knight as the second highest decorated soldier in WWII.
Captain Kangaroo joined the Marine Corps, but graduated from training just after the war ended. Mr. Rogers is not, to my knowlege, a veteran.
I love “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Some of my favorite lines of his (as best as I remember them):
“Why, in the grand scheme of things I’d say you’re nothing but a scurvy little spider!...And that goes for you too!...And that goes for you too!”
“Mary, you on the nest?”
“Burt, do you know me?”
“You’re about the kind of angel I’d get.”
“Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!” (Potter’s reply, “Happy New Year to you...in jail!”
Don’t forget Pat Buttram, Roy Roger’s sidekick who drove the cantankerous jeep “Lulabelle” in Roy’s TV series. There is a great interview of him in the 20th Century WWII War in Europe documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite. He was a gunner on a Sherman tank and he relates a harrowing tale of how he and his crew knocked out a German Mark V Panther!!! He acts real noncholant and bemused about the whole thing.
Think again? Really ... as a former Marine and someone with more than a casual interest in military history I can assure you Ted Knight hardly qualifies as the second most decorated soldier of WWII.
A great American. His success didn’t go to his head.
Yes, at a place called Tarawa.
It might make him third. Lt. Col Matt Urban had equal awards to Murphy, including MOH.
Urban was called the Ghost by his German foes because he kept coming back to fight despite his wounds, his record was capped with the Medal of Honor in 1980 after a long-lost recommendation for the nation's highest military honors was unearthed and acted upon by President Jimmy Carter. According to the Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, Virginia, both Murphy and Urban were awarded 29 medals.
Thank you sweetie. Gosh I love you guys, Foxhole FReepers are the best.
I had the honor of meeting Jimmy Stewart and talking with him for nearly 20 minutes. He was truly a gracious gentleman and gladly recounted some of the hollywood stories that he must have told many, many times before.
His hometown is Indiana, Pennsylvania, only about 50 miles from where I live. I really need to visit his museum there.
As a Navy vet, I was impressed by Adm. Eugene B. Fluckey, one of the greatest naval heroes of World War II who was awarded the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses for his daring submarine attacks on Japanese shipping. In addition to the Medal of Honor and Navy Crosses (second only to the Medal of Honor), Admiral Fluckey received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and a host of lesser decorations. His greatest achievement, he often said, was that no one under his command ever received another well-known medal: the Purple Heart.
On one mission, Admiral Fluckey selected eight commandos from his crew to paddle ashore in rubber boats and place a 55-pound bomb under railroad ties on the northern Japanese island then called Karafuto. As the men were rowing back to the Barb in darkness, the pressure-sensitive charge blew up a 16-car troop train. It was the only time in World War II that US forces set foot on the soil of the Japanese home islands.
Admiral Fluckey and his 80-man crew were credited with sinking 29 ships, including an aircraft carrier, destroyer, and cruiser. He destroyed more gross tonnage than any other submarine commander. For his wartime exploits, he became known as "Lucky Fluckey" and the "Galloping Ghost of the China Coast."