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.
This handout image provided by the U.S. Postal Service shows the postage stamp honoring legendary actor Jimmy Stewart. The Postal Service will hold ceremonies in Hollywood and Pennsylvania on Friday, Aug. 17, 2007
Gonna have to set some money aside for some of these. Thanks for the heads up.
Yea I want to get me some also.
One of my favorite actors and a great patriot.
I do recommend the recent biography of Jimmy Stewart by (IIRC) Neal Gabler.
It’s a thorough work, but do be forewarned...Gabler did spend just a
bit too much time explicating the moral map of one of Stewart’s great directors
I wonder what Jimmy and his ilk of Tinseltown past would think of today’s obscenely compensated, largely talentless Hollywood flakes, particularly their unsolicited political commentary.
Even those who volunteered and got turned down for active military service (Ronald Reagan) found a way to help.
"Nothings to good for the man who shot Liberty Valance"
One of my absolute favorites. Loved Harvey. The best line in the movie of which there are many great ones goes something like, “Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”
He also flew at least one sortie over Vietnam in a B-52.
I didn’t know that. Thanks for pointing it out.
Eddie Albert - already in the movies. Entered USN, Well decorated for service in the Pacific.
James Arness - Matt Dillon on Gun smoke was wounded in action.
Gene Autry - age 35 and already a star. USAir Corps flying over the Burma Road.
Lew Ayers - anti-war but served as a medic in the US Army in the Philippines.
Richard Boone - not yet a star. USN at age 26.
Ernest Borgnine - a star later. Entered the USN in 1935 serving 10 years, 4 in combat.
Neville Brand - not a star yet, was the second highest decorated soldier in the European theater.
Charles Bronson - not yet a star. US Air Corps - 25 combat missions. Entered at age 22.
Art Carney - not yet a star or Ed Norton, was wounded on D-Day. That is why he limped.
Robt. Cummings - already a star. Entered the US Air Corps at age 34. Flight instructor.
Tony Curtis - not yet a star. Entered USN at age 18.
Joe Dimaggio - Baseball star. Entered the US Air Corps at age 29. Special Services.
Kirk Douglas - acting but not yet a star. USN until badly hurt in an accident.
Peter Falk - tried to join the Army by cheating on the eye exam chart which he memorized because he had lost an eye as a youth. The Doctor noticed his eye didn't move while reading the chart and took a closer look. Falk then joined the Merchant Marines for the duration of WW II.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. - Big-time star. Entered USN at age 33. Waived easy duty for combat. Worked with British Commandoes. Well decorated.
Bob Feller - Baseball star. USN at age 24. Combat in the Pacific.
Henry Fonda - already a star. Entered USN. Waived easy duty and at age 37 saw a lot of action in the Pacific. well decorated.
Glenn Ford - already a beginning star. Entered USMC. Served on camera crew from Normandy thru Europe.
Clark Gable - big-time star. Entered US Air Corps just short of his 42nd birthday. Didn't have to go but pulled strings to do his duty to his Country. Too old to be a pilot but went on many combat missions. Well decorated. Hitler had a $5000 bounty on his head.
Hank Greenberg - Baseball star. US Air Corps at age 32. Became a captain.
Tom Harmon - sports announcer. Entered US Air Corps at age 22. Flew combat missions over Burma Road in Asia. Shot down and MIA for 30 days. WIA. Well decorated.
Sterling Hayden - beginning actor. Entered USMC at age 25. Worked with the Yugoslav partisans against the Germans and Italians.
Van Heflin - already a star. Entered the US Army at age 32. Artillery officer.
Charleton Heston - already a star. Entered the US Air Corps at age 19 as a gunner on the bombers.
Wm. Holden - already in movies. Entered US Army at age 26 after his brother was KIA. Special services.
Ralph Houk - Baseball star. Entered US Army at age 23. Served with tanks in Europe. Well decorated.
Ken Kavanaugh - Football star. Entered US Air Corps at age 26. Became a well-decorated bomber pilot.
Gene Kelly - already a star. Entered USN at age 30. did documentaries for the Navy.
Ralph Kiner - Baseball star. Entered USN at age 21. Became a bomber pilot.
Burt Lancaster - Not yet a star. Entered US Army at age 32. Special Services.
Tom Landry Not yet famous as a football coach. Entered US Air Corps after his brother was KIA. Well decorated. Joe Louis - Heavy-Weight Boxing Champ. Entered US Army at age 28. Special Services.
Karl Malden - not yet a star. Entered US Air Corps at age 30. Special Services.
Lee Marvin - not yet a star. Entered the USMC at age 18. WIA.
Walter Matthau - not yet a star. Entered the US Air Corps at age 22. Flew combat missions in Europe.
Victor Mature - already a star. Entered the US Coast Guard at age 27. Served both in the Atlantic and Pacific.
Ed McMahon - not yet a star. Entered the USMC at age 20. Flight Officer instructor.
Robt. Montgomery - already a star. Entered USN at age 20. Served on PT boats and Destroyers. Well decorated.
Wayne Morris - already a star. Entered USN at age 25. Flew 57 combat missions as a fighter pilot in the pacific. Highly decorated.
Audy Murphy, not a star yet, was the highest decorated soldier during WW II.
Stan Musial - baseball star. Entered USN at age 24.
Paul Newman - not yet a star. USN at age 17.
Hugh O'Brian - not yet a star. USMC at age 17. Drill Instructor.
Jack Palance - not yet a star. Entered US Air Corps at age 23. Badly injured and medically discharged.
Sidney Poitier - not yet a star. Entered (under age) USN.
Tyrone Power - already a star. Entered USMC at age 29. Became a fighter pilot.
Robt. Preston - already a star. Entered US Air Corps at age 25. Became a Combat Intelligence officer.
Ronald Reagan - already a star. Was already in the US Army Reserves but had bad eyesight. Could have gotten out but asked to stay. Did Army Training films.
Pee Wee Reese - baseball star. Entered USN at age 24. Special Services.
Jackie Robinson - baseball star. Entered US Army at age 23.
Mickey Rooney - already a star. Entered US Army at age 23. Special Services.
Dan Rowan - not yet a star. US Air Corps at age 20. Pilot in the Pacific.
Robt. Ryan - already a star. Entered USMC at age 34. Drill Instructor.
Sabu - already a star. Entered US Air Corps at age 20. Flew 42 combat missions.
George C. Scott - not yet a star. Entered USMC at the end of the war at age 19.
Enos Slaughter - baseball star. Entered US Air Corps at age 27.
Robt. Stack - already a star. Entered USN at age 23 serving as a gunnery officer.
Rod Steiger - not yet a star. Entered USN (under age) and served in the Pacific.
Jimmy Stewart - already a star. Entered the US Air Corps at age 34. Flew 20 combat missions in Europe. Highly decorated. Left as a Lt. Col. and remained in the USAF Reserves retiring as a Lt.General.
Joe Stydahar - football star. Entered the USN at age 30.
Robt Taylor - already a star. Entered USN at age 32. Flight Instructor.
Ted Williams - baseball star. Entered USMC at age 25, serving as a flight instructor. He also remained in the USMC reserves and got recalled to serve in the Korea War, two interruptions in his career.
I'm not sure of the terminology, but I don't think it's accurate to say Reagan wasn't in active military service.
Due to his eyesight, which was truly awful, he wasn't eigible for combat duty, but he actively served in the Army Air Corps for several years making training films and performing other services, which were presumably helpful to the war effort. I think that qualifies as "active service," or at least as active as any other serviceman not in a combat outfit. (Which not everybody can be.)
What a Guy... Love Jimmy Stewart.
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."
Smaller stars on a military ribbon denote subsequent awards. For instance two stars on a Bronze Star ribbon indicate the awarding of three medals total. The Silver Star, the nations third highest award for bravery in combat is in fact star shaped ... adorned by a light blue/red & white ribbon.
Since the United States had yet to declare war on Germany and because of the Army's unwillingness to put celebrities on the front, Stewart was held back from combat duty, though he did earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant and completed pilot training. He was later stationed in Albuquerque, NM, becoming an instructor pilot for the B-17 Flying Fortress.
The only public appearances after he went into flight school were limited engagements scheduled by the Air Corps. "Stewart appeared several times on network radio with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he performed with Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Walter Huston and Lionel Barrymore in an all-network radio program called 'We Hold These Truths,' dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. But mostly, Stewart's days and nights were spent preparing for his upcoming flight tests, ground school and academic examinations for his commission."
"Still, the war was moving on. For the thirty-six-year-old Stewart, combat duty seemed far away and unreachable, and he had no clear plans for the future. But then a rumor that Stewart would be taken off flying status and assigned to making training films or selling bonds called for his immediate and decisive action, because what he dreaded most was the hope-shattering spector of a dead end." So he appealed to his commander, a pre-war aviator, who understood and reassigned him to a unit going overseas.
In August 1943 he was finally assigned to the 445th Bombardment Group in Sioux City, Iowa, first as Operations Officer of the 703rd Bombardment Squadron and then its commander. In December, the 445th Bombardment Group flew its B-24 Liberator bombers to Tibenham, England and immediately began combat operations. While flying missions over Germany, Stewart was promoted to Major.
In March 1944, he was transferred as Group Operations Officer to the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 outfit that had been experiencing difficulties.
In 1944, he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He also received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
In July 1944, after flying 20 combat missions, Stewart was made Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force. Before the war ended, he was promoted to Colonel, one of only a few Americans to rise from private to colonel in four years.
BTW, if you goggle Lt Col Matt Urban, the Foxhole thread is hit #3.
Very cool. That’s for the info.
Coool. “big grin”. We’re famous. ;-)