re: "Remembering a Hero"
"(O)n the centennial of his birth, Jimmy Stewart should also be remembered for his “other” career, the one he was reportedly most proud of. Stewart served as a bomber pilot during World War II, and remained in the Air Force Reserve until 1968, retiring as a brigadier general. While Stewart’s military career is certainly well-known, few understand the effort he made to serve his country in uniform."
"With his enlistment in March 1941, Stewart became the first American movie star to enter the U.S. military during World War II, though the attack on Pearl Harbor was still nine months away."
"Jimmy Stewart’s combat service coincided with some of the most vicious air battles of World War II. His early missions were part of a campaign called The Big Week, aimed at breaking the back of the German Luftwaffe. The Big Week produced some of the heaviest casualties (among bomber crews) since the disasters at Schweinfurt and Ploesti in mid-1943.
It was a brutal introduction to combat, but Stewart and his fellow crew members met the challenge. The 445th won a unit citation for its efforts during a “Big Week” raid, with Stewart receiving the first of two Distinguished Flying Crosses that he would win as a combat pilot. ... ... When the war ended, Stewart was a full Colonel, making him the highest-ranking actor to serve in World War II.
While he would remain active in the reserves for another 20 years, Stewart (with typical modesty) rarely spoke of his wartime exploits, in public or in private."
I remember seeing him on television a few times during the Reagan administration, attending various formal occasions and wearing his decorations on his lapel. It made for quite a contrast with most of the other Hollywood "elite."