The dis-oriented author is a Jimmy Stewart fan. I know that my younger readers may not know who he is. Jimmy Stewart won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1941 for Philadelphia Story. As an actor, Stewart was known as a self-effacing everyman. The closest modern equivalent would be Tom Hanks. What I learned from Smith and Cronkite's Jimmy Stewart: Bomber Pilot is that during World War II, Stewart volunteered for service in the legendary VIII Bomber Command that flew heavy bombers into occupied Europe and Germany.
Jimmy Stewart was not just an actor — he was a patriot and a hero.
Jimmy Stewart is probably best remembered for his role as
Clarence George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. I especially enjoy his performance as Glenn Miller in The Glenn Miller Story. Of course Miller was the legendary swing band leader who volunteered for service in the Army during World War II. Miller's airplane disappeared on his way to entertain troops somewhere over the English Channel. Miller was a hero but until I read this book I did not realize that he was played by a hero.
I do not use the word hero lightly. Stewart did not have to join up. In fact when he tried to enlist he was too light! Eventually he put on enough wight to pass the physical. Already a private pilot with a commercial rating he volunteered for the Air Corps. He eventually qualified in B-17s and became an instructor pilot. He could have spent the entire war stateside but Stewart pulled some strings to get sent to the European Theater of Operations. He arrived in England in time to join the VII Bomber Command. At the time the British were doing night bombing raids over the continent. The Americans were doing much more dangerous daylight raids. All told the Might Eighth performed over 10,000 raids with just over 4,000 losses.
Stewart was a pilot and eventually a Squadron Commander. He ended the war as a Colonel and retired from the Air Force reserve as a Brigadier General. He even flew in an observer role in a B-52 mission over Viet Nam.
With his fame, the Army would have preferred to use Stewart in a public relations role. But he felt his duty was to go to war just like every other able-bodied American.
This is an excellent book about an extraordinary man.
|Jimmy Stewart: Bomber Pilot gets 5 of 5 dis-oriented smileys|
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