Stewart, James Maitland, Maj Gen

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Major General
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
66-Air Commander
Last AFSC Group
Command and Control
Primary Unit
1968-1968, 94th Airlift Wing
Service Years
1941 - 1968
Officer Collar Insignia
Major General

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by TSgt Bill Cline (Bill) to remember Stewart, James Maitland, Maj Gen USAF(Ret).

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Indiana, PA
Last Address
Beverly Hills, CA

Date of Passing
Jul 02, 1997
Location of Interment
Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Glendale, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified
Military Service Number
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Air Force Commander WW II Honorable Discharge Pin Air Force Retired

 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
National Aviation Hall of FameAir Force Association (AFA)Famous People Who Served in the U.S. Military
  2009, National Aviation Hall of Fame
  2014, Air Force Association (AFA) - Assoc. Page
  2015, Famous People Who Served in the U.S. Military - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity


The Stewart family had deep military roots as both grandfathers had fought in the Civil War, and his father had served during both the Spanish-American War and World War I. Since Stewart considered his father to be the biggest influence on his life, it was not surprising that when another war eventually came, he too served. Unlike his family's previous infantry service, Stewart chose to become a military flyer.

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. Considered a highly proficient pilot, he even entered a cross-country race as a co-pilot in 1939.[20] 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 not entered the conflict and due to the Army's unwillingness to put celebrities on the front, Stewart was initially held back from combat duty, although he enlisted as a private, he earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant and completed pilot training. He was subsequently stationed in Albuquerque, NM, becoming an instructor pilot for the B-17 Flying Fortress.

The only public appearances after he went into flight school were limited engagements scheduled by the Air Corps. "Stewart appeared several times on network radio with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he performed with Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Walter Huston and Lionel Barrymore in an all-network radio program called We Hold These Truths, dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. But mostly, Stewart's days and nights were spent preparing for his upcoming flight tests, ground school and academic examinations for his commission."

"Still, the war was moving on. 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.

Col. Stewart being awarded the Croix de guerre with palm by Lt. Gen. Henri Valin, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, for his role in the liberation of France. USAF photo.

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 unit 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 U.S. personnel being tried over an attack on a neutral country. The Court acquitted the accused.

Stewart continued to play an active role in the United States Air Force Reserve after the war, achieving the rank of Brigadier General on 23 July 1959. 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.

In 1966, Brigadier General James Stewart rode along as an observer on a B-52 Stratofortress bombing run during the Vietnam War; he also flew combat duty missions during that conflict. At the time of his B-52 mission, he refused the release of any publicity regarding his participation as he did not want it treated as a stunt, but as part of his job as an officer in the Air Force Reserve. He served as Air Force Reserve commander of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in the early 1950s and after 27 years of service, Stewart retired from the Air Force on 31 May 1968. 
Other Comments:
Some facts regarding Jimmy's military career:
  • Overseas 21 months
  • 20 combat missions
  • Six battle stars
  • Remained with the Air Force Reserves
  • Promoted to Brigadier General , July 1959
  • Retired 1968
  • Distinguished Service Medal 1968
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom 1985
Here is a tribute website:

A full list of medals awarded:
  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 Service Stars
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • French Croix de Guerre with Palm
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom


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  1943-1943, 29th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy

First Lieutenant
From Month/Year
- / 1943
To Month/Year
- / 1943
29th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy Unit Page
First Lieutenant
Not Specified
Base, Station or City
Gowen Field
 29th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy Details

29th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy

The 29th Bomb Group was activated on February 1, 1940 at Langley Field, Virginia. It was comprised of the 6th, 43rd, 52nd, and 411th bomb squadrons. The 411th inactivated on May 20th 1944. On April 1, 1944, the 29th Bomb Group (H) was redesignated as the 29th Bomb Group (VH).

After training at Langley Field, the group moved to MacDill Field, Florida. In conjunction with the U.S. Navy, they flew patrol missions in the Caribbean. On June 20, 1942, the group moved to Govern Field, Idaho to train personnel to become combat crews with ground and air training. After training 22 Bomb Groups, the 29th moved to Pratt, Kansas to begin training as a B-29 combat unit.

On May 29, 1944 Col. Carl R. Storrie assumed command and the air and ground training began. The training was very intense and at Pratt as well as in Puerto Rico and Cuba. The ground crews completed their training and staging, and they arrived on Guam between February 15 and 26, 1945.

A total of 66 combat missions were flown having both day and night raids. In addition, there were flights for air-sea rescue (Dumbo), weather reconnaissance, and radar scope. The targets varied from air fields, aircraft factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, and industrial areas.

The first mission was to Tokyo on February 25, 1945 and the last mission was on August 15, 1945. Then, the group flew supplies on mercy missions to the POW camps in Japan. Finally, and with great honor, the 29th Bomb Group participated in the "Show of Force Mission" over Tokyo Bay and the battleship U.S.S. Missouri.

The men of the 29th Bomb Group served proudly, and their bravery was recognized by many awards. The greatest award, the Medal of Honor, was awarded for bravery on a mission to Koriyama Japan to:

Sgt. Henry M. Erwin
April 19, 1945

20TH Airforce - 314th Wing Guam

Other Awards

2 Destinguished Unit Citations
3 Silver Stars
2 Soldier Medals
372 Distinguished Flying Crosses
49 Oak Leaf Clusters to the DFC
1,450 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medals
Many Purple Hearts

The cost to the 29th Bomb Group was enormous in terms of human lives. Two crews were lost in training. an additional crew, which ditched near Japan, was picked up by a U.S. submarine. While in combat, the bomb group lost 18 more crews, and at war's end, there were a handful of men who were POW's.

The men or the 29th Bomb Group served proudly and their bravery was recognized by many awards. The greatest award THE MEDAL OF HONOR was awarded to Henry E. (Red) Erwin

Distinguished Service Cross: George (Tony) Simeral
7 Silver Stars: 1 with oakleaf
372 Distinguished Flying Crosses: 49 With Oakleafs
722 Air Medals: 1,450 With Oakleafs
2 Soldiers Medal 49 Bronze Star Medals
243 Purple Hearts 2 Distinguished Unit Citations

two 29th Bomb Group Boeing B-29 Superfortresses either headed to, or returning from, a mission over Japan in early 1945.

Parent Unit
Bombardment Units
Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2019
My Photos For This Unit
No Available Photos
15 Members Also There at Same Time
29th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy

Wade, Horace Milton, Gen, (1934-1973) Colonel
Boren, William, Lt Col, (1940-1945) A23 AAF MOS 1024 Lieutenant Colonel
Clay, Lucius Dubignon, Gen, (1942-1975) Captain
Ward, Irving, Capt, (1941-1945) A23 AAF MOS 1093 Captain
March, Borden, 1st Lt, (1941-1945) First Lieutenant
Fredericks, William Ralph, 2nd Lt, (1941-1945) Second Lieutenant
Harbour, Shelva, 2nd Lt, (1943-1945) A19 AAF MOS 140 Second Lieutenant
Osner, John, 2nd Lt, (1942-1945) A08 AAF MOS 1034 Second Lieutenant
Painter, Paul C, 2nd Lt, (1941-1943) A23 AAF MOS 1091 Second Lieutenant
Winzer, Roy, 2nd Lt, (1943-1945) A23 AAF MOS 1024 Second Lieutenant
Matkins, John, MSgt, (1941-1945) A07 AAF MOS 611 Master Sergeant
Pesuth, Stephen, TSgt, (1941-1945) A07 AAF MOS 2750 Technical Sergeant
DeStefano, Domenic, Sgt, (1941-1945) A07 AAF MOS 611 Sergeant
Ford, Rex, Sgt, (1942-1945) A07 AAF MOS 611 Sergeant
Walton, Hazle, TSgt, (1943-1945) A07 AAF MOS 748 Corporal

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