Of all the celebrities who served their country during World War II -and they were legion -Jimmy Stewart was unique. On December 7th, when the attack on Pearl Harbor woke so many others to the reality of war, Stewart was already in uniform - as a private on guard duty south of San Francisco at the Army Air Corps Moffet Field. Seeing war on the horizon, Jimmy Stewart, at the height of his fame after Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and his Oscar-winning turn inThe Phadelphia Story in 1940,had enlisted several months earlier.
Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot chronicles his long journey to become a bomber pilot in combat. Author Starr Smith, the intelligence officer assigned to the movie star, recounts how Stewart's first battles were with the Air Corps high command, who insisted on keeping the naturally talented pilot out of harm's way as an instructor pilot for B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators. By 1944, however, Stewart managed to get assigned to a Liberator squadron that was deploying to England to join the mighty Eighth Air Force. Once in the thick of it, he rose to command his own squadron and flew twenty combat missions, including one to Berlin.
“My father would feel honored by this book.” —Kelly Stewart Harcourt, daughter of Jimmy Stewart
"We would have made Jimmy a group commander [equivalent to an army regiment] if the war had lasted another month." - General Jimmy Doolittle.
"An excellent biography of a distinguished airman and fine human being." - Roger Freeman, author of The Mighty Eighth: A History of the U.S. 8th Air Force.
"How wonderful it is that Starr Smith has finally directed a literary light on the personal history of Jimmy Stewart. . . . I welcomed Starr's book. It is needed and wanted. Bravo!" - Gay Talese.
"This is a very well researched and written book. . . . It fills a place in history about no mere actor but a courageous and selfless man, Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart, USAF." - General Michael E. Ryan, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
“I have met a few movie stars, but of them all, I think that Jimmy Stewart was most like those modest heroes he portrayed. Now journalist Starr Smith has raised the curtain on Stewart’s gallant service as a bomber pilot and air combat commander in World War II.” —Walter Cronkite, from the Foreword
Smith (Only the Days Were Long) served with Stewart (1908-1997) in the Eighth Air Force during 1943-1944. They were stationed in East Anglia, England, but Smith opens this memoir of their service with Stewart's New York homecoming in 1945. By then, Stewart had led 20 missions over enemy territory and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, along with other decorations. Smith, whose later career included stints working with Air Force brass and in the reserves, takes readers through Stewart's entire WWII service, including his fight with the studios to let him enlist, his training and his deployment. The bulk of the book concerns action in Germany, and will be of great interest to flight squad buffs. The final chapters make brief stops at Stewart's post-war marriage, his eventual promotion to Brigadier General and the establishment of the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana and the Mighty Eighth Heritage Museum. Smith's clear admiration for Stewart comes through on every page, but with an understatement that even George Bailey could have lived with. 64 b&w photos.