Jimmy Stewart in WWII
Prior to World War II, James
Stewart learned to fly and received his private pilot's license in 1935. He enlisted in
the Army on March 22, 1941. Though he desired to fly as a combat pilot, he was at first
used mostly for publicity. At his own expense, he took additional private flight training
so he could qualify for combat. He received his commission after the attack on Pearl
Early in the war, Jimmy Stewart
served as a Bombardier trainer. He was eventually qualified on B-17s and was attached as
operations officer with 445th Bomb Group, 703rd squadron. Within a month he was put in
command of the squadron. He eventually flew a total of 20 combat missions in WWII. From
1944 to 1945 he served as chief of staff, 2nd Combat Wing, 2nd Division, 8th Air Force.
- Served overseas 21 months
- Flew 20 combat missions
- Medals received for WWII service:
- Six battle stars
- Distinguished Flying Cross with two
Oak Leaf Clusters
- Air Medal with three Oak Leaf
- Croix de Guerre with Palm
- After WWII, Jimmy Stewart continued
in the Air Force Reserve. He eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General.
- Medals received for later military
- Distinguished Service Medal 1968
- Presidential Medal of Freedom 1985
- Retired 1968
An Airman's prayer :
Throughout the war, he carried with
him a copy of the 91st Psalm, a gift from his father. According to the Jimmy Stewart Museum, he said, "What
a promise for an airman. I placed in His Hands the squadron I would be leading. And, as
the psalmist promised, I felt myself borne up."
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth
shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not
come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on
high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will
deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Return to Actors in WWII
Jimmy Stewart Aviation Films:
Flight of the Phoenix
Strategic Air Command
in the Sky
(with Marlene Dietrich)
AFI Jimmy Stewart Lifetime Achievement Award