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When Hollywood had a sense of patriotism
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LTC Stephen F.
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Thank you my friend SGT (Join to see) for making us aware that on March 29, 1945, movie star James Maitland Stewart was promoted to full colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Jimmy Stewart Bomber Pilot
Jimmy Stewart was too modest to recount his war experiences and there is very little material on his tour as bomber pilot. I found this audio clip from 1990 when he spoke at Princeton about his life and briefly about WW2.
Nearly two years before the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Stewart had become a private pilot and had accumulated over 400 hours of flying time and was considered a highly proficient pilot. Along with musician/composer Hoagy Carmichael, seeing the need for trained war pilots, Stewart teamed with other Hollywood moguls and put their own money into creating a flying school in Glendale, Arizona which they named Thunderbird Field. This airfield trained more than 200,000 pilots during the War, became the origin of the Flying Thunderbirds, and is now the home of Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Later in 1940, Stewart was drafted into the Army Air Corps but was rejected due to a weight problem. The USAAC had strict height and weight requirements for new recruits and Stewart was five pounds under the standard. To get up to 148 pounds he sought out the help of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's muscle man, Don Loomis, who was legendary for his ability to add or subtract pounds in his studio gymnasium. Stewart subsequently attempted to enlist in the United States Army Air Corps but still came in under the weight requirement although he persuaded the AAF enlistment officer to run new tests, this time passing the weigh-in,with the result that Stewart successfully enlisted in the Army in March 1941. He became the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform in World War II.
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.
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 the situation 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 RAF 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. As a means to inspire his new group, Stewart flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on numerous missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe. These missions went uncounted at Stewart's orders. His "official" total is listed as 20 and are limited to those with the 445th. 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.
At the beginning of June 1945, Stewart was the presiding officer of the Court-Martial of a pilot and navigator who were charged with dereliction of duty when they accidentally bombed the Swiss city of Zurich the previous March - the first instance of US personnel being tried over an attack on a neutral country. The Court acquitted the accused.
Stewart did not often talk of his wartime service, perhaps due to his desire to be seen as a regular soldier doing his duty instead of as a celebrity. He did appear on the TV series, The World At War to discuss the 14 October 1943, bombing mission to Schweinfurt, which was the center of the German ball bearing manufacturing industry. This mission is known in USAF history as Black Thursday due to the incredibly high casualties it sustained; in total 60 aircraft were lost out of 291 dispatched, as the raid consisting entirely of B17s was unescorted all the way to Schweinfurt and back due to the current escort aircraft available lacking the range. Fittingly, he was identified only as "James Stewart, Squadron Commander" in the documentary.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoY8Cj1larg

Images
1. 1944 Officers of the 703rd Bomb Squadron, including Jimmy Stewart (highlighted in back row), stand before a Consolidated B-24 Liberator.;
2. Lt. Gen. Martial Valin, chief of staff, French air force, awards the Croix de Guerre with Palm to Colonel Stewart for exceptional services in the liberation of France
3. Corporal James M. Stewart was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant at Moffett Field, Calif., on January 19, 1942.
4. "Nine Yanks and a Jerk's" crew chief peers through the hole left by an unexploded anti-aircraft shell that narrowly missed Stewart.

Background from {[https://www.historynet.com/mr-stewart-goes-to-war.htm}]
Mr. Stewart Goes to War
U.S. Air Force
Richard L. Hayes
Jimmy Stewart looked back on his service as a WWII bomber pilot as one of the greatest experiences of his life.
His paternal grandfather had fought against the South, and his father against Spain and Germany, so it was reasonable to assume James Mai¬tland Stewart would serve in his turn. By the late 1930s, his career was just taking off with such hits as You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Destry Rides Again. But with war looking inevitable, Stewart set his sights on a new role, this time in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He even bought his own plane, a Stinson 105, eventually gradu¬ating to multi-engine aircraft and earning a commercial pilot’s license, all on his own.
Stewart’s draft number was 310, but though he was 6-foot-3, he weighed only 138 pounds. When the Army turned him down as too skinny, he started eating spaghetti twice a day, supplemented with steaks and milkshakes. At a second physical in March 1941, he still hadn’t gained quite enough weight to be eligible, but he talked the Army doctors into adding an ounce or two so he could qualify, then ran outside shouting to fellow actor Burgess Meredith: “I’m in! I’m in!”
The night before he left for training, MGM threw a farewell party for its departing star. Most of the actresses present that evening kissed him goodbye, and Rosalind Russell wiped off the lipstick with her handkerchief and wrote each girl’s name on it. Stewart kept the hanky for good luck.
On March 22, 1941, Stewart was inducted into the Army as a private, serial number 0433210. He was sent to Fort MacArthur, Calif., where cameramen hounded him, following him even when he was issued his underwear. Witnessing all that unwanted attention, one old soldier remarked sympathetically, “You poor bastard.” Stewart’s salary dropped from $12,000 per week to $21 per month, but he dutifully sent a 10 percent cut ($2.10) to his agent each month.
Stewart underwent basic training at Moffett Field, Calif., where a crowd of girls waited just outside the gates, eager to get a glimpse of their idol. It got so bad that his commanding officer put up a sign requesting civilians to leave Stewart alone until after he finished his training. He was commissioned on January 18, 1942. Appearing in uniform at the Academy Awards the following month, he presented the Best Actor Oscar to Gary Cooper for Sergeant York (Stewart had won the previous year for The Philadelphia Story).

Though Stewart subsequently narrated two training films, Fellow Americans and Winning Your Wings, and lent his star power to a few radio shows and war bond tours, in general he resisted efforts to capitalize on his career. Instead he requested more flying time—and he soon got his wish. First he became a flight instructor in Curtiss AT-9s at Mather Field, Calif. From there he went to Kirkland Field, N.M., for six months of bombardier school. In December 1942, he requested transfer to the four-engine school at Hobbs, N.M. Finally, he reported to the headquarters of the Second Air Force in Salt Lake City.
Still looking for more than desk duty, Stewart was sent to Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, and the 29th Bombardment Group, where he became a flight instructor on B-17 Flying Fortresses. During that time, his roommate was killed in an accident, and three of his trainees were lost in another mishap. One student remembered, “Stewart was known for being one of the few officers who never left the airfield tower until every single plane had returned.”
On one night flight with a student pilot, Stewart left the copilot’s seat to check on equipment in the nose and let a new navigator sit in the right-hand seat. Suddenly the no. 1 engine exploded, sending pieces of shrap¬nel into the cockpit and knocking the pilot senseless. With the engine on fire and wind tearing through the windows, the navigator froze at the controls. Stewart had to pull him out of the seat so he could take over, hit the fire extinguishers and land on three engines.
In March 1943, Stewart briefly became the operations officer of the 703rd Squadron, 445th Bomb Group, in Sioux City, Iowa. He was named the squadron’s commander three weeks later.
On November 11, Captain Stewart led two-dozen B-24H Liberators to England by way of Florida, Brazil, Senegal and Morocco. They became part of the 2nd Air Division, Eighth Air Force, stationed at Tibenham. Within hours of their arrival, Germany’s “Lord Haw-Haw” welcomed the squadron on the radio. Following a few shakedown flights, Stewart’s first mission was to bomb the naval yards at Kiel, flying a B-24 that had been named Nine Yanks and a Jerk by a previous crew.
The actor-turned-commander was a successful, popular officer. His roommate at the time recalled: “I always got the feeling that he would never ask you to do something he wouldn’t do himself. Everything that man did seemed to go like clockwork.”
Stewart was lucky, too. During his third mission, on Christmas Eve, his group was or¬dered to hit V-1 launching sites at Bonnaires, France. Coming in low at 12,000 feet, 35 B¬24s plastered the target near the coast, then returned to base without even being targeted by flak or fighters. If two of the Liberators hadn’t collided on takeoff, it would have been a perfect mission.
He also took care of his men. When Stewart found out the finance officer wouldn’t have enough money for his crew for a few days, he threatened to have him transferred to the infantry unless they were paid immediately. And when one of his crews hid a keg of stolen beer in their barracks, he ambled in, threw off the covers and drew himself a glass, then announced that there was a keg of beer around there somewhere, it was a very serious matter and it should be taken care of immediately…if they ever found it. He then finished his beer and walked out.
In January 1944, Stewart was promoted to major, a promotion he had refused until, as he said, “my junior officers get promoted from lieutenants.” By that time he commanded all four squadrons of the 445th Bomb Group.
On January 7, after bombing Ludwigshafen, Stewart noticed that the lead group, the 389th, was 30 degrees off course and slowly diverging from the protective fire of the rest of the formation on the way back to base. Knowing the bombers’ new direction would take them directly over Luftwaffe airfields in northern France, he radioed the lead plane and explained they were off course. The leader replied curtly that no, they weren’t, “and stay off the radio.”
Stewart faced a difficult decision. He could stay with the rest of the formation on the correct course, or he could follow his errant lead squadron. A two-squadron formation would be much more vulnerable, but a single squadron didn’t have much of a chance at all. He chose to stay with the 389th and add the defensive power of his own guns to theirs.
Sure enough, more than 60 Luftwaffe planes swarmed up from bases below. The commander of the 389th Bomb Group paid dearly for his mistake: his plane went down in flames. Seven other 389th B-24s were also shot down, but Stewart was lucky again; all the bombers in his squadron made it home. As a fellow officer would later point out, “There were a lot of lives saved that day because he knew what he was doing and when he had to do it.”

Stewart experienced what was probably his closest brush with death on February 25, during a nine-hour mission to Furth, unescorted most of the way. For the first time, waist gunners in the lead planes hurled bundles of chaff overboard to try to fool the German radar-directed anti-aircraft guns. It only succeeded in attracting them. Whenever they threw a bundle out, the flak became more accurate. The Germans hit the bombers with everything they had on that mission, including anti-aircraft rockets.
The 445th hit its target, but on the way home a flak shell burst in the belly of Stewart’s Liberator, directly behind the nose wheel. Somehow the B-24 kept on flying—all the way back to base. But when the shrapnel-perforated bomber landed, its fuselage buckled. Just in front of the wing at the flight deck, the airplane cracked open like an egg. The crew climbed out, unhurt, and looked over their crippled aircraft. In his characteristically understated fashion, Stewart mused to a bystander, “Sergeant, somebody sure could get hurt in one of those damned things.”
Aside from an occasional trip to actor David Niven’s house, a meeting with a dignitary or a quick sailing expedition, Stewart concentrated on the job at hand. “I prayed I wouldn’t make a mistake,” he recalled. “When you go up you’re responsible.” Once a flight engineer went AWOL just before a mission, forcing his plane to fly without him. It didn’t return. Stewart was required to discipline the man, but he wondered, “How do you punish someone for not getting killed?”

The war eventually got to everyone, even calm, mild-mannered Jimmy Stewart. “Fear is an insidious thing,” he said. “It can warp judgment, freeze reflexes, breed mistakes. And worse, it’s contagious. I felt my own fear and knew that if it wasn’t checked, it could infect my crew members.”
In early 1945, after 20 B-24 missions, Stewart was transferred to Old Buckenham, becoming the operations officer of the 453rd Bomb Group. When he arrived in a B-24, he reportedly buzzed the tower until the controllers fled.
The 453rd’s lead Liberator, Paper Doll, had no permanently assigned copilot. That position was usually filled by one of the senior staff officers, often Stewart himself. Waist gunner Dan Brody recalled, “He exhibited himself as an excellent pilot, even under adverse conditions.”
Like the men of the 445th, his new group found Stewart unfailingly friendly. On the way back up the runway, for example, when he saw a pedestrian he’d stop his jeep and drawl, “Hey fella, lak a ride?”
The senior staff normally rotated, flying every fifth mission, but Stewart went out of his way to lead 11 more sorties. While he liked the B-17, he still had a soft spot for the Lib¬erator. He later said of the B-24, “In combat, the airplane was no match for the B-17 as a formation bomb¬er above 25,000 feet, but from 12,000 to 18,000 it did a fine job.”
Most of the men were amused to find they were being briefed by the famous actor. Extras often dropped in—among them radioman Walter Matthau, who thought he “was marvelous to watch.”
In April 1945 Stewart was promoted to colonel and chief of staff of the 2nd Air Division. It was during this time, while he was sweating out the return of his planes from each mission, that his hair began to turn gray.
Stewart finally returned Stateside in September 1945 aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth. Pre¬dictably, he waited at the gangplank until all of his men had disembarked before coming ashore. Asked about his service in Europe, he commented, “I had some close calls—the whole war was a close call.” When he returned to Hollywood, he refused a lavish welcome home party, saying, “Thousands of men in uniform did far more meaningful things.”
A standard clause in Stewart’s contracts thereafter stipulated that no mention of his war record could be used in conjunction with any of his films. He remained in the Air Force Reserve, and in 1955, persuaded by friends, made the film Strategic Air Command. Ironically, though he had thousands of hours in the air, because of studio insurance regulations Stewart wasn’t allowed to actually fly in any of his movies.
In 1966 Stewart made one more combat flight—this time as an observer in a B-52 Stratofortress over North Vietnam. His stepson Ronald McLean was killed in Vietnam one year later.
During an interview late in life, the actor explained that World War II was “something I think about almost every day—one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Asked whether it had been greater than being in films, he said simply, “Much greater.” James Stewart—recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Oak Cluster, the Croix de Guerre with Palm and seven Battle Stars—died on July 2, 1997, at age 89.
Freelancer Richard Hayes writes from Chicago. For further reading, try Jimmy Stewart: Bomber Pilot, by Starr Smith.
Mr. Stewart Goes to War original

FYI COL Mikel J. Burroughs SMSgt Lawrence McCarter SPC Michael Duricko, Ph.D GySgt Thomas Vick SGT Denny Espinosa SSG Stephen Rogerson SPC Matthew Lamb LTC D. Wayne GregoryMaj Bill Smith, Ph.D. MAJ Dale E. Wilson, Ph.D. PO1 William "Chip" Nagel PO2 (Join to see) SSG Franklin Briant SPC Woody Bullard TSgt David L. SMSgt David A Asbury SPC Michael Terrell SFC Chuck Martinez CSM Charles Hayden
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LTC Stephen F.
LTC Stephen F.
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Jimmy Stewart, Actor - True Life War Hero
James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997), also known as Jimmy Stewart (although he seldom used that name in formal credits), was an American actor and military officer, known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona. A major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player, Stewart starred in many films that are considered to be classics, and is known for portraying American middle-class men struggling in crisis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw43EQs4-fQ

Images:
1. After their mission to Pas de Calais, the crew of the B-24H known as Lady Shamrock pose with air commander Stewart of the 703rd squadron, 445th B-24 bomber group.
2. a base intelligence officer shows Captain Stewart (right) maps before he begins a mission in WWII
3. B-24 Liberator bomber was suitable for long, over-water missions.
4. Actor Jimmy Stewart, pictured in 1945 after World War II combat ended, was haunted by his memories from his time in the Air Force.

Extensive background from [https://www.jimmy.org/about-jimmy-biography/]
"JAMES MAITLAND STEWART: A BIOGRAPHY James Maitland Stewart, the oldest child and only son of Alexander and Elizabeth Jackson Stewart, was born in his parent’s home at 975 Philadelphia Street in Indiana, Pennsylvania on May 20, 1908. After Jimmy’s arrival, the family expanded to include two sisters, Mary Wilson and Virginia Kelly.

Alex (pronounced Alec) Stewart owned the local hardware store. The J.M. Stewart & Co. hardware store had been founded in 1848. Alex purchased a share of the business from his father, James Maitland Stewart in 1905, and assumed sole ownership in 1923. The hardware store, known locally as “the big warehouse”, was a Philadelphia Street institution.

The Stewart’s could trace their roots in Indiana County to 1772, when Jimmy’s third great-grandfather Fergus Moorhead first arrived in what is now Indiana County from Franklin County, Pennsylvania. After Fergus was captured by Indians in July, 1776 his wife and three children returned to Franklin County. He was held captive a total of eleven months. The Moorheads returned to Indiana County, but not until Fergus served with the Cumberland County Militia in the Revolutionary War. Elizabeth Ruth Jackson, known as Bessie, was from Apollo, Pennsylvania, a small town about twenty-five miles west of Indiana. The Jacksons could trace their ancestry back to 1773 and she also had a relative that served in the Revolutionary War. Her father Col. Samuel Jackson, served during the Civil War. She had graduated Wilson College in Franklin County and was thirty-one years old at the time of her wedding on December 19, 1906. Bessie was once described by the local paper as a “lady of regal bearing, dignified and quite proper.”

From his mother and grandfather, J.M. Stewart came Jim’s reserved, dignified manner, as well as the distinctive, deliberate way of thinking and speaking. When Jimmy was five years old, his dad purchased a house atop “Vinegar Hill” at 104 North 7th Street, with a view overlooking downtown Indiana. The Stewart children would slide down the stairway of their home on an Oriental rug, present magic shows and impromptu plays in the basement, and circle the top of Vinegar Hill in a horse-drawn rig. This remained the family home until Alex’s death in 1961.

The Stewart’s had a close-knit and highly principled family life. They held hands and said grace at every meal. Music and reading were focal points of the family’s time together. Elizabeth Stewart was an accomplished musician and pianist, and she passed this gift on to her children. When Alex Stewart was given an accordion by a customer as payment of a debt at his store, he originally gave it to his daughter Virginia (Ginny) to play, but as she was too small to handle it, it was given to Jim, so that the instrument did not “go to waste.” Jim also played the piano, as did his sister Ginny. Mary (Doddie) played the violin.

The Stewart family was members of the Calvary Presbyterian Church of Indiana, where Alex and Bessie sang in the choir. Jimmy’s happy childhood left a lasting impression. He was self-possessed and self-confident. He valued hard work and knew exactly who he was. As long as his activities fell within the range that his father deemed acceptable, Alex would indulge his only son.

When President Harding’s funeral train was passing thru a town about 20 miles from Indiana, Bessie said Jim could not go see it since it would be in the middle of the night. Alec on the other hand thought that his boy should see a piece of history and wakened Jimmy up and they went to see the train. When the train was coming close gave Jimmy two pennies to put on the track. The train of course flattened them. Jimmy & Alec carried these for years. After his death Jimmy found Alec’s penny in his desk drawer.

Plays were presented to neighbor hood children, inspired by the various artifacts his father sent home from France during World War I. Model planes were built and launched from the roof of the house. Homemade radios were built and sold. Jimmy became a Boy Scout and remained active with this organization as an adult. Stewart’s formal education began in Indiana at The Model School, now Wilson Hall, on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He attended The Model School through ninth grade.

In 1923 his parents enrolled him at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg Pennsylvania, an all-boys school known for its strong religious emphasis at the time Stewart attended.

Jimmy would have been quite content to return to Indiana and would have preferred to stay with his family and friends, but Alex wanted Jim to attend his alma mater Princeton University. Alex had graduated from Princeton in 1898. At Mercersburg, Stewart was active in a variety of activities. He played on the football team for three years, and in his first year at the Academy, he was on the track team. He was art editor for the yearbook KARUX from 1926 to 1928, and he was also a member of the John Marshall Literary Society. Jimmy was active in the choir and glee club, the Stoney Batter drama club, it was here that he had his first real on stage role in “The Frog Prince”, and was elected to play his accordion in the school’s Marshall Orchestra.

During his first summer break, Stewart returned to Indiana Pennsylvania to work as a brick loader for a local construction company and on highway and road construction jobs where he painted lines on the roads.

Over the following two summers, he took a job as an assistant with his friend, Bill Neff, a professional magician. He and Neff played the Pennsylvania-Chautauqua circuit and Stewart’s job was to play his accordion during any “awkward” moments. This gave the young entertainer even more exposure to on-stage performances. He graduated from Mercersburg Academy in 1928. Although Jimmy would have preferred to attend the Naval Academy, Alex‘s mind was made up and Stewart entered his father’s alma mater, Princeton University, in the fall of 1928. His ability to play the accordion enabled him to join the Triangle Club and appear in their production of The Golden Dog, even though there was a ban on freshmen appearing in any Triangle Club productions. He was invited back for the following year by the Triangle to perform a solo on his accordion, “So Beats My Heart for You.” He and the future director-producer Josh Logan performed together in a production of The Tiger Smiles during his junior year and two other productions during his senior year. One production was for the Triangle Club, and the other with Princeton’s Theater Intime. He was also on the cheerleading squad in his junior year and head cheerleading in his senior year.

Although he initially considered engineering, Jimmy finally settled on architecture as his course of study, at which he excelled. He so impressed his professors with his thesis on an airport design that he was awarded a scholarship for graduate studies. His interest in aviation had begun as a boy and was to be a lifelong passion. Stewart became a member of Princeton’s Charter Club in 1929. The Charter Club sponsored weekend jazz parties with the biggest names in the business. One particular weekend event headlined Bix Beiderbecke, Bud Freeman, Jimmy Dorsey and Charles Teagarden. T hough he was becoming more and more involved in performing at this time, Stewart still insisted that he would pursue his graduate studies and a career in architecture. He graduated from Princeton University in 1932. Economic factors greatly influenced what Stewart actually did after his graduation.

A fire had devastated the family’s business in 1929 and his father was in the process of rebuilding. Stewart’s sister Mary had been accepted in an art program at Carnegie Tech, while Virginia had been accepted a Vassar. Because of the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed Stewart questioned whether he would find employment as an architect.

Two weeks after graduation, he received an offer from friend Josh Logan to join the University Players, a summer stock group based in West Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and he accepted. Logan wanted him to play his accordion in the tea room next to the theater and to do some small walk-on parts. Stewart arrived in Falmouth in the summer of 1932 and began to learn his craft in earnest. While there he met another soon-to-be famous actor, Henry Fonda. At Falmouth, Stewart played the accordion, worked as a stagehand, designed sets, and generally learned the theatre business from the inside out.

In 1932, when the Players had the opportunity to stage Carrie Nation on Broadway, he played a number of small roles that included a constable, a vigilante, an innocent bystander and gardener. While living in New York, he roomed with Henry Fonda and began a friendship that would endure until Fonda’s death in 1982. Though Carrie Nation ran only seven weeks on Broadway, Stewart caught the attention of the critics. He also got favorable reviews for his roles in other Broadway plays, Goodbye Again (1932), Spring in Autumn (1933), and All Good Americans (1933). Goodbye Again had a nine month Broadway run before moving to Boston, where he was then cast inWe Die Exquisitely. He left to become stage manager for Camille (1933), starring Jane Cowl, and moved back to Broadway to play Sergeant O’Hara inYellow Jack (1934). This performance earned him a screen test with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). In the midst of these and other stage performances, Stewart had also done a screen test for the Fox movie studio and was cast in his first moving picture, a Warner Brothers two-reel comedy, Art Trouble(1934). Neither Warner Brothers nor Fox offered him a contract. While waiting to hear from MGM, Stewart was cast in Journey at Night. However, the play closed after the second night and Stewart went home to Indiana, Pennsylvania. Two months later, MGM called him to Hollywood. His friend Henry Fonda met him at the train station. Jimmy was to play the part of a cub reporter in a Chick Sale short, Important News (1936). MGM then cast the 6’3” Stewart in the role of another newspaper man named “Shortie” in the filmMurder Man (1936), starring Spencer Tracy.

From 1935 to 1939 Stewart appeared in 29 motion pictures. In those four years he played a doctor, lawyer, teacher, newspaperman, mechanic, executive, hayseed, soldier, skater, farmer, football star, speed driver, detective, and even a murderer. During this period, he appeared with most of the acclaimed actresses of the time including Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Sullavan, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Claudette Colbert, Jean Arthur and Elinor Powell. In addition to film, Stewart also did voice work for the studios and radio networks, includingThe Lux Radio Theater, The Screen Guild Theater, and MGM’s promotional program, Good News of 1938. The year 1939 was pivotal for Stewart. He performed in his first western, Destry Rides Again, opposite Marlene Dietrich. His performance as Senator Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes To Washington earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor and elevated him to true “star” status. He would make nine more pictures before playing the role that would finally win him the Oscar, that of reporter Mike Conner in The Philadelphia Story. He co-starred in that film with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, John Howard and Ruth Hussey. The film received six Oscar nominations, but only Stewart and Donald Ogden Stewart, for best screen play, walked away with a statue. Jimmy appeared in 55 motion pictures after The Philadelphia Story. Other performances that won him the Oscar nomination for best actor were It’s A Wonderful Life, released in 1946,Harvey, released in 1950, and Anatomy of a Murder, released in 1959. He worked with Hollywood’s most notable directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Anthony Mann and Frank Capra. Of all the directors he worked with, Capra was the one who best captured what was to become the Stewart trademark, the myth of the common man struggling against great odds, the American who was at the same time “tough but vulnerable.”

The passionate Sicilian-American and the young man from Indiana, Pennsylvania somehow shared a commonality of values both on and off screen that made them friends for life. When Stewart received his Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1985, it was Capra he singled out as having the most profound influence on his career. Stewart’s life off-screen was as interesting and demanding as his career in films.

While he was building his reputation as an actor, the rest of the world was about to go to war. German occupation in numerous countries in the early part of 1940 led Congress on September 16, 1940 to pass the Selective Service Bill, “the draft”, this bill called for 900,000 men between the ages of 20 and 36 to be drafted each year. Stewart’s draft number was 310. When his number was called and he appeared at Draft Board No. 245 in West Los Angeles in February 1941, the 6’3” Stewart weighed only 138 pounds, 5 pounds under the acceptable weight level. He was turned down. Stewart wanted to fly and serve his country but by May of 1941 he would have been too old to get into flight school. He went home ate everything he could that was fattening and went back and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, he passed the physical with an ounce to spare. While others tried to avoid the draft, he actually wanted to serve in the military. Later he would actually campaign to see combat.

Jimmy was already a licensed pilot. Interested in aviation as a child, he had taken his first flight while still in Indiana from one of the barnstorming pilots that used to travel the Midwest. As a successful actor in 1935 Jimmy was able to afford flying lessons. He received his pilot’s license in 1935 and bought his first airplane. In 1938 he gained his commercial pilot’s license. He often flew cross country to visit his parents in Pennsylvania, navigating by the railroad tracks.

In the military, he was to make extensive use of his pilot’s training. In March 1941 at age 32, he reported for duty as Private James Stewart at Fort McArthur and was assigned to the Army Air Corps at Moffett Field. To comply with the regulations of the Air Corps proficiency board, Stewart required additional 100 flying hours and bought them at a nearby field, at this own expense. He then took and passed a very stiff proficiency board examination. In January 1942 Stewart was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He was then sent to Mather Field in California as a twin engine instructor this included both the B-17 and B-24. Much to his dismay, Stewart stayed stateside for almost two years, until commanding officers finally yielded to his request to be sent overseas. In November 1943, now a Captain and Operations Officer for the 703rd Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group of the Eight Air Force, he arrived in Tibenham, England. In March of 1944 he was transferred to the 453rd Bombardment Group at Old Buckenham. While stateside, Stewart flew B-17’s (The Flying Fortress). In England he flew B-24’s (The Liberator) and did so for the remaining years of the war. Stewart’s war record included 20 dangerous combat missions as command pilot, wing commander or squadron commander. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, The Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. At the end of the war he had risen to the rank of Colonel. After the war he remained with the US Air Force Reserves and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1959. His tuxedo and dress blues with all the correct medals are on display at The Jimmy Stewart Museum. He retired from the Air Force in 1968 (mandatory retirement age) and received the Distinguished Service Medal. When the war was over, Jimmy returned home to a hero’s welcome in Indiana, Pennsylvania, immortalized by Life magazine cover that showed him posing in full uniform on top of a building with the golden cupola of the Indiana County Courthouse in the background draped with a “Welcome Home Jim” banner and a large lighted wooden “V”ictory sign – his father is said to have put these up.

But he was concerned about his career. No longer under contract with MGM, he wondered whether or not he could still act. Radio supplied some acting roles while he waited for a screen part. His first post-war radio appearance was the Lux Radio Theatre version of Destry Rides Again. Director and friend (and now ex-Colonel) Frank Capra supplied his next role with an offer to play the part of George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Though the film was not a commercial success at the time, it was enough to revive Stewart’s faith in his acting abilities and his career. Stewart remained an independent actor working without a studio contract.

In 1950, an ailing Universal Studios approached the actor with the suggestion that he appear in the western film Winchester ’73 and also the film version ofHarvey. Although Universal couldn’t afford to pay Stewart his usual salary, acting on advice of his agent Lew Wasserman, Stewart agreed to work for a percentage of the profits. This gave Jimmy the opportunity to do the part of Elwood P. Dowd that he had wanted. Both films were major successes. Profits aside, the deal established precedent, shifting the balance of power from the studio to the star and began a gradual erosion of the old studio system of movie making.

In 1949, James Stewart, distinguished actor, trend setter and military hero, added one more part to his growing repertoire, that of a family man. He met Gloria Hatrick McLean in the summer of 1948 when he accepted a dinner invitation to the home of Gary and Rocky Cooper. The 31 year old Gloria stole Stewart’s heart. She was beautiful, outgoing, well educated and she liked to play golf. She loved animals and the outdoors, and she was not an actress. When Stewart married her on August 9, 1949, they had a ready-made family. Gloria had two children, Ronald then five and Michael, three, from a previous marriage. Stewart, for years considered one of the most eligible bachelors in Hollywood, was 41 years old. In the fall of 1950, the Stewarts learned they were to become parents of twins. On May 7, 1951, fraternal twins Kelly & Judy were born. The Stewarts lived in Beverly Hills where many other celebrities resided. Yet their son Michael says they “were raised with that small-town Christian Presbyterian ethic that nobody owes you a living. If you have bad breaks, get up and move on. That was the attitude of both my parents, and it never changed.”

After his retirement from the military, Jimmy and Gloria traveled a lot. They became very interested in safaris, zoos and wildlife conservation efforts. He continued making films and appeared on numerous television shows, includingThe Jack Benny Show. Stewart had his own television show on NBC in1971,The Jimmy Stewart Show, followed by Hawkins on CBS in 1973. Later, he would make many memorable appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Through these appearances, movie re-runs, and the release of his films to video, another generation became familiar with his work. It’s A Wonderful Life, one of his personal favorites, became a television Christmas tradition, viewed annually by millions. In 1970, co-starring with Helen Hayes, he revived his role of Elwood P. Down in Harvey on stage in New York and again in 1975 in London. In 1976, when his friend Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for President, Stewart helped by campaigning extensively for him in California. He served as an Elder at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church and did television commercials for Firestone tires and Campbell’s soup. A recording of his poetry book, Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, was nominated for a 1991 Grammy Award in the spoken-word category. Jimmy and Gloria Stewart became increasingly active in philanthropic affairs over the years. His signature charity event, The Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon Race, held each year since 1982, has raised millions of dollars for the Child and Family Development Center at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Professionally, he became a champion for the preservation of film and a powerful opponent in the fight against the colorization of classic films. He advocated his platform in hundreds of interviews and even testified before Congress on the topic. In the meantime, his career achievements were being honored by every major film festival and center, including Cannes, Berlin, Monterey and The Kennedy Center. In 1985, when Stewart received The Lifetime Achievement Award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he had already become one of Hollywood’s most highly honored and deeply loved stars. He has been the recipient of many coveted awards and the subject of countless tributes that recognize not only his professional successes, but his character and patriotism.

In 1967 the Pennsylvania Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts was awarded to Jimmy Stewart. The American Film Institute has recognized the magnitude of Jimmy’s accomplishments by awarding him the coveted Life Achievement Award in 1980 for fundamentally advancing the art of American Film. In presenting the award, the AFI summed up many aspects of his enduring presence: “In a career of extraordinary range and depth, Jimmy Stewart has come to embody on the screen the very image of the typical American. Whether flying the ocean as Charles Lindbergh, going to Washington as Senator Jefferson Smith, or playing an ordinary man who somehow never got around to leaving his home town, Stewart has captured the essence of American hopes, doubts, and aspirations. His idealism, his determination, his vulnerability, and above all, his basic decency shine through every role he plays…..”

In 1983 on his 75th birthday his hometown of Indiana unvailed a statue of their native son in front of the County Chourthouse. There is a fiberglass rendering of this statue in The Jimmy Stewart Museum. In 1990, his alma mater, Princeton University, awarded him it highest alumni honor, The Woodrow Wilson Award, for outstanding public service. He had been awarded an honorary master’s degree in 1947 and had served as a University trustee from 1959-1963. The American Red Cross presented Stewart with their Humanitarian Award for service to his fellow man. The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America presented Stewart with the Silver Buffalo Award (on display at the Museum) for his “distinguished service to boyhood”.

Stewart’s life was not without adversity, however in July 1953 Stewart’s mother Elizabeth passed away. His father died in December of 1961. His stepson, Ronald, a commissioned Marine officer, was killed in Vietnam in June of 1969, just two months after Jimmy and Gloria had visited him while they were on a USO tour. In February 1994, Jimmy lost his beloved wife of nearly 45 years, Gloria.

In 1995 on the occasion of Stewart’s 87th birthday, The Jimmy Stewart Museum, along with a new terminal at the Jimmy Stewart Airport, were dedicated with the help of daughters Judy and Kelly in his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Today visitors come to Indiana from around the world to learn more about his life and career and to see where he grew up and acquired the values he embraced thoughout his life – hard work, love of country, love of family, love of community and most of all love of God.

Jimmy Stewart passed away on July 2, 1997, at the age of 89. He was mourned by fans worldwide. Perhaps the greatest tribute of the American Film Institute was the observation that James Stewart is an actor “so beloved by the movie going public that they call him “Jimmy”, just like a member of the family.” And so he remains, our Jimmy. America still needs heroes, and Jimmy Stewart continues to fill the bill."

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LTC Stephen F.
LTC Stephen F.
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James Maitland Stewart (20th May 1908 - 2nd July 1997), 89, was an American actor and military officer who is among the most honoured and popular stars in film history. A major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player, Stewart was known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona, which helped him often portray American middle-class men struggling in crisis. Many of the films he starred in have become enduring classics.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eArdI9jhrDc

Images:
1. Fellow actor Clark Gable (right, with Stewart) also entered the military and was sent into combat.
2. Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria Hatrick McLean. Stewart adopted her two sons, Michael and Ronald, and the two had twin daughters, Judy and Kelly Stewart.
3. Stewart was put in command of a B-24 bomber group, the 445th. A B-24 with the circle F (pictured above) denoted the 445th Bomb Group
4. While serving as a squadron operations officer, Major Jimmy Stewart discusses a mission with pilots in the spring of 1944.

Background from {{https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3825552/Jimmy-Stewart-suffered-extreme-PTSD-lost-130-men-fighter-pilot-WW-II-acted-anguish-filming-s-Wonderful-Life.html]}
EXCLUSIVE: How Jimmy Stewart's agony in It's a Wonderful Life came from extreme PTSD he suffered after he lost 130 of his men as fighter pilot in WWII
Actor Jimmy Stewart was haunted by his memories from his time in the Air Force and suffered from PTSD when he returned from World War II
Stewart wrestled with the guilt of killing civilians in bomb raids over France and Germany and felt responsible for the death of his comrades
Stewart never talked about his struggles and bottled up his emotions
But they came out when acting parts he chose when he returned to Hollywood
He tapped into his emotional distress during filming of It's a Wonderful Life, where his character George Bailey unravels in front of his family
Stewart's anguish is laid bare for the first time in Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the fight for Europe by author Robert Matzen
By DAN BATES FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

Jimmy Stewart suffered such extreme PTSD after being a fighter pilot in World War II that he acted out his mental distress during 'It's a Wonderful Life'.
Stewart played George Bailey in the classic movie and channeled his anger and guilt into the scenes where he rages at his family.
Stewart was haunted by 'a thousand black memories' from his time as an Air Force commanding officer that he took with him back to Hollywood after the war.

Pilots who flew with him said that became 'Flak Happy' during World War II, a term to describe what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
Stewart wrestled with the guilt of killing civilians in bomb raids over France and Germany including one instance where they destroyed the wrong city by mistake.
Stewart felt responsible for the death of his men and especially one bloodbath where he lost 13 planes containing 130 men who he knew well.

Stewart's anguish is laid bare for the first time in author Robert Matzen's Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the fight for Europe, published by Paladin Communications.
Stewart never spoke about it, even to other veterans, and bottled up his emotions that came out in the acting parts he chose when he returned to Hollywood.
He acted it out during It's a Wonderful Life, where character George Bailey unravels in front of his family - the emotional core of the film after a lifetime of setbacks, including being unable to go to war while his brother becomes a decorated hero.

Films like Shenandoah and Winchester 73 allowed Stewart to explore his dark side which was never there before he went to war.
Matzen writes that Stewart's decision to join the military was less surprising than his decision to become an actor; his grandfather fought in the Civil War and more distant relatives fought in the Revolutionary War.
Growing up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, he got into acting while in school and was given a contract by MGM in 1935 which led to him starring Philadelphia Story in 1940, for which he won the Oscar.

However in his spare time Stewart was flying planes relentlessly and got his commercial pilot license so that he could join the Air Force.
His initial attempts failed because he was too skinny, despite trying to fatten himself up on ice cream and chocolate bars.
Stewart was finally called up shortly before the assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941 which forced America into the World War II.
Asked by a studio boss why he wanted to give up his life in Hollywood, Stewart said: 'This country's conscience is bigger than all the studios in Hollywood put together, and the time will come when we'll have to fight'.
Stewart was initially put in the Air Force Motion Picture Division because commanders wanted to use him to make films to convince more airmen to sign up.
He was also used for PR stunts until he demanded that he see combat like other airmen.
Stewart's chance came with the creation of a B-24 bomber group, the 445th, and he was appointed commander of the 703rd squadron.

However in his spare time Stewart was flying planes relentlessly and got his commercial pilot license so that he could join the Air Force.
His initial attempts failed because he was too skinny, despite trying to fatten himself up on ice cream and chocolate bars.
Stewart was finally called up shortly before the assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941 which forced America into the World War II.
Asked by a studio boss why he wanted to give up his life in Hollywood, Stewart said: 'This country's conscience is bigger than all the studios in Hollywood put together, and the time will come when we'll have to fight'.
Stewart was initially put in the Air Force Motion Picture Division because commanders wanted to use him to make films to convince more airmen to sign up.
He was also used for PR stunts until he demanded that he see combat like other airmen.
Stewart's chance came with the creation of a B-24 bomber group, the 445th, and he was appointed commander of the 703rd squadron.

As the flight got underway Stewart's dream was finally realized - he was in combat.
Matzen writes that he 'became part of something vital, something like the phalanx of the Roman legions'.

The biggest shock was the flak from anti-aircraft guns.
Matzen writes that the training about it 'bore no resemblance to the experience' and their bombers yawed left and right and pitched up and down as explosions went off all around them in the sky.
None of Stewart's planes were shot down during the raid - but soon the bodies began fall.
During a raid on Bremen, the second largest port in Germany, enemy fighters took down a bomber called 'Good Nuff'. Of the crew of ten, just three parachuted out.
Not for the first time, Stewart had to write a letter to the parents of the dead airmen saying they were missing and presumed dead.
A mission over Mannheim ended in catastrophe when they lost two planes with 20 men inside.
And as the weeks went on, this all began to weigh heavily on Stewart.
Matzen said: 'He was a perfectionist and he was so hard on himself. It wasn't just that he had responsibility for his plane, if he was in a group it was 15-20 planes and it was sometimes 75-100 planes.

As the flight got underway Stewart's dream was finally realized - he was in combat.
Matzen writes that he 'became part of something vital, something like the phalanx of the Roman legions'.

The biggest shock was the flak from anti-aircraft guns.
Matzen writes that the training about it 'bore no resemblance to the experience' and their bombers yawed left and right and pitched up and down as explosions went off all around them in the sky.
None of Stewart's planes were shot down during the raid - but soon the bodies began fall.
During a raid on Bremen, the second largest port in Germany, enemy fighters took down a bomber called 'Good Nuff'. Of the crew of ten, just three parachuted out.
Not for the first time, Stewart had to write a letter to the parents of the dead airmen saying they were missing and presumed dead.
A mission over Mannheim ended in catastrophe when they lost two planes with 20 men inside.
And as the weeks went on, this all began to weigh heavily on Stewart.
Matzen said: 'He was a perfectionist and he was so hard on himself. It wasn't just that he had responsibility for his plane, if he was in a group it was 15-20 planes and it was sometimes 75-100 planes.

The instruments in Stewart's cockpit malfunctioned and 12 bombers deployed their payloads on the city of Tonnerre instead.

At least 30 tons of general purpose bombs rained down causing unknown numbers of civilian casualties.

Stewart's pilots tried to cover for him but he took the blame himself, something which earned him their ultimate respect.

In all Stewart had served four-and-a-half years during World War II and was awarded the Air Medal with oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Croix de Guerre.

Matzen told DailyMail.com that he interviewed one of the pilots who flew with Stewart who told him that Stewart once said that he had gone 'flak happy' and was sent to the 'flak farm'.

'Flak happy' refers to what has now become known as PTSD but was little understood at the time, while the 'flak farm' was a treatment center for soldiers.

Matzen's book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, hits bookstores on October 24 and is available for order on Amazon +15
Matzen's book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, hits bookstores on October 24 and is available for order on Amazon
After getting a leave of absence Stewart spent weeks staying with his friend Peter Fonda in Los Angeles doing nothing but decompress.
Matzen writes that Stewart 'couldn't imagine life in a peacetime air force, settling into a routine of drudgery'.

For Stewart his soul had been 'ground down to nothing' and his 'youth had died'.
When Stewart's mother Bessie and his father Alex saw him for the first time they were 'shocked by what they saw - their boy had aged what seemed decades'.
Matzen writes that he was a decorated war hero, was rake thin and had gray hair and a 'command authority' that made his father uneasy.
Stewart faced a grim reality: He was 37 but looked 50 and his career as a romantic lead was over. He struggled to find work until director Frank Capra hired him for It's A Wonderful Life.
Matzen said that it was a lifeline for Stewart and rehabilitated him in the eyes of Hollywood, showing directors that he could still act.
Speaking to DailyMail.com, Matzen said: 'Jim came back from hell on earth and groped around for a movie to make, and his only offer he had was for what would become the most beloved motion picture in all American culture.
'In an unlikely life full of unlikely things -this gangly stringbean becoming a movie star and then a war hero -this was the unlikeliest.'

The movie also provided an unlikely outlet for his still raw emotions.
Matzen said: 'I don't think he had that kind of capacity before the war. It enabled him to be ferocious and to have that raw emotion.
'You see it time and time again; I think he would look for scripts where he could demonstrate that rage. I think that was the side of him that in there all the time and that's how he would let it out,'
Stewart did not leave the military and continued to serve until May 1968 when he retired after 27 years of service during which time he was a bomber pilot during the Vietnam War.
But the memories of World War II never left him and he would see people in the street who reminded him of the airmen who had died under his command.
In 'Mission', Matzen writes: 'Was he still flak happy, on a flak farm? Who could tell what was real after all that had happened over five long years.

'The nightmares come every night.
'There was on oxygen at 20,000 feet with 190s zipping past, spraying lead and firing rockets, flak bursting about the cockpit. B-24s hit, burning, spinning out of formation.
'Bail out! Bail out! Do you see any chutes? How many chutes? Whose ship was it? Oh God, not him?
Not them! Bodies, pieces of bodies smacking off the windshield.
'And the most frequent dream, an explosion under him and the plane lifted by it and the feeling that this was the end.'

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A1C Riley Sanders
A1C Riley Sanders
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LTC Stephen Ford:
Great article about Jimmy Steward, I knew of his experience with 'PTSD' but not the extent of it , it is not difficult from one 'PTSD' sufferer to under stand that of another , I also was unaware he had served in Vietnam , Jimmy had great character,and I enjoyed all his movies .
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Maj Marty Hogan
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Inspiring to say the least
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SSG Samuel Kermon
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Hope your day has been great.
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