Leadership and Management in America; What’s the Problem Here? Part 1

It’s a slow time, and I’m not really into the best (worst) list of much of anything in 2019, and nothing I’ve got really grabs me this morning. So I’m going to reach clean back to 2012 and a series I did on Leadership and Management, and the differences. We’ll try part 1 and if you like it we’ll try and fit the other parts in. Nothing much has changed really. One note though, the links may or may not work, I haven’t checked them, but the articles are coherent without them. Enjoy. And welcome to “The Roaring Twenties”.

Note that this started out as a post and it grew so long that it has now turned into four. I’m not going to make any excuses for that as I think everything we are writing about here is important. So these will be coming out over the next day. Some may interest you more than others but, they are all pieces of the puzzle that we as a nation, as businesses, and as leaders need to solve.

We seem to be having moral and morale problems in American society, both business and military today. I have been seeing a lot of stuff coming in in the last few weeks, and I’ll be referring to a number of them here.

First, I’m going to tell you a bit about my background, Most of you know that I am a Lineman, an Electrician, and now an operations manager. In a few days I’ll celebrate 41st Anniversary of my certification as a journeyman lineman. It was a few years later that I wired my first house as an independent electrical contractor. So, I’ve been around and seen a lot.

I think I’ve written before about how I came up. My dad was the General Manager of an REA electric coop, before that he was a lineman and a project superintendent. One of the anomalies in my life is that my parents were in their forties when I was born, and that is reflected in me. Essentially, It was almost like most of my generation being raised by their grandparents. I’m not complaining, what I missed in playing catch and football was more than made up for in life lessons.

Dad taught, without I think even realizing it, how things had been done in my industry even before the Depression. For instance, I know how to set a pole with the biggest piece of equipment being a man. Do I wish to ever do it again that way? No, it’s damned hard work, takes at least 5 men and a couple hours but, a lot of your power lines were built that way. Same thing with climbing poles. Dad’s knees gave out sometime around 1950 when he was a bit over 40. In fact, he told me one time that if he had known what was coming, he would have stuck it out without taking the manager’s job, I didn’t then, and don’t now, completely believe that, knowing how he detested dealing with fools overeducated superiors but, there you are.

Incidentally, if you are one of those people with your whole Love Me Wall covered with diplomas, degree, certificates, and pictures of you with political celebrities you might be interested in what people like me think when we see it. We think you’re a fool, and probably incompetent, too. Why? Because if you haven’t done it for real, you haven’t done it. At best you’re a crony capitalist. That is not meant to diminish real accomplishments, like engineering degrees from Purdue or MIT, J.D. Diplomas (if you’re an attorney), the shadow box containing your military ribbons, although remember a lot of us recognize them, the one for no cavities won’t buy much respect

The thing is, in an REA Coop, like anybody else where there is a lender providing the money, there are rules pertaining to almost anything and how you do it. Somebody described it, I think Herman Wouk in The Caine Mutiny, as a system designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. Add to that the rigid safety rules for working on power lines and suddenly you have a system that is stagnant, where nothing ever changes. Or do you?

It all depends, whether you have a leader, or a manager. In dad’s case, when he went in to the office, lines were worked dead, pretty much always, beyond changing an insulator. This was mostly because you either climbed the pole on hooks or a ladder. It was possible to change a pole hot but, it was a big deal, almost never done on distribution lines.

But, the times they were a changing, foresters, were having trouble climbing trees, that’s even more dangerous than climbing poles, and something new appeared on the scene. It was called a SkyworkerTM and it was a revelation. It was the first bucket truck, there had been platforms, towers, they called them, that went straight up from the truck, and self supporting ladders mounted on trucks, since about the war but, the bucket truck was insulated like a hot stick, so that you could literally bare hand a power line, and it could reach out to the sides of the truck, so you didn’t always have to park right under the line.

As in all industries that deal with things that can kill you quick, acceptance took a while. As it happens, in 1955, dad convinced his board to buy one, actually a demo unit. Talk about a difference, not only did you not have to climb the pole but, you could lift the energized wire out of the way. Now what had taken half a day could be done in a couple of hours. This made it feasible to replace anything up to poles without interrupting service. The replacement of the A-frame derrick with the hydraulic digger derrick a couple of years later made similar improvements. When I was working for a contractor, if we had a competent crew (usually we did) we could change a pole routinely in 15-30 minutes energized, with three men. Again, dad was one of the first. Why?

  1. He knew the job, he had been a lineman since the ’20s and had seen almost everything.

  2. He had been promoted to the position of authority where he could recommend the purchase and help in defining the role of the new equipment, while making sure that safety was not compromised. This included the new rescue procedures needed.

  3. He had the experience to reassure the field people that he was going to keep them safe and that this revolution wasn’t going to cost them their jobs. (Although it may have slowed down new hiring some).

  4. Most of all, he had the vision, foresight, and leadership to see how this would benefit the company, the employees, and most of all the client, the customer.

This is one major reason why companies should promote from within, or at least their own industry. The revolution I’ve outlined above would not have happened without the vision provided by men like dad, he was hardly the only one, but I knew him better. It’s been said before but, I’m going to say it again, If you are an operations company; it needs to be run by operators, everything else is support.

A lot of the trouble I see in American industry today is companies that do various things, meat packing, manufacturing, retailing, logistics, whatever, being run by accounting. That’s bass ackwards. If your company builds widgets, it should be run by people that know how to build widgets, the job of accounting is to keep score, the job of HR is to find the proper people. The job of neither, if your going to effectively build widgets for a profit, is to run the company. They are a support function, and a cost center, not a profit center. Most of them don’t understand this and think they know more than the operators.

Then there is this in my career.

We have been trying since the sixties to make life safe for 3 year olds or idiots, take your pick. The National Electric Code runs on a three year cycle. In 1968 it began requiring grounded outlets, which was a very good thing, when something went wrong with an appliance the current had a safe path to ground and would blow the fuse. That’s all well and good. In about 1975 the requirement became that the equipment grounding conductor become the same size, which if you understand the theory, it should have been from the beginning.

Then was developed in the 1980’s the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, which was designed to measure the current on the wires and if it wasn’t equal turn off the circuit. It’s a pretty good idea. It will protect you when you forget to unplug the toaster before rinsing it out in the sink.

Now we have Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters which detect arcs in your wiring and appliances. In fact, if you drive a metal staple too tight when you’re wiring a house, the AFCI will trip. It’s an OK device in many ways, and has probably stopped some fires from occurring.

We are also mandated now to use tamper resistant receptacles which prevent you from putting a bobby pin in an outlet.

All of these things will make your house safer when properly installed. But there is a downside. The circuit that feeds your bedroom costs about thirty dollars in material on the 1977 specification (current dollars). That same circuit wired to 2011 Code will cost about a hundred dollars in material, labor is roughly the same. Safety has a price, and so does regulation.

The most common example, of course, is your car. My first car was a 1963 Bel Air. It had headlights, taillights, parking lights, backup lights, a horn, bumpers, and lap belts which were optional.

In 1968, the government required side lights, and a locking and collapsible steering column, as well as a padded dashboard, in 1974 emission standards kicked in (killing mileage and power) as well as bumpers that would withstand a 5 mph impact. Now we have harnesses, child safety seats, air bags, and I don’t know what all. Why? To protect us from incompetents, why wouldn’t it have made more sense to teach people to drive effectively enough so they didn’t hit things?

Oh, that Bel Air, It cost less than $3,000, maybe less than $2000, new. What’s a new car worth now?

And that is one of our problems, we are protecting the incompetent at the expense of the productive. Apparently we have forgotten that life is dangerous, so dangerous in fact, that no one gets out of it alive. What would an American car be like if we hadn’t squandered all that engineering talent in protecting the incompetent? Nobody knows.

Solzhenitsyn and Alfie Evans

This leads into tomorrow’s post but also harks back to 2018 when we (many of us) anyway re heartbroken at the enforced death of Alfie Evans. Everything said here is still true and now there are more examples of the cold disdain of the NHS (in fairness, there are also some good stories out there). And yet, a near clone of this heartless machine is what some of our presidential candidates want for Americans. That is all the reason I need to vote against them.

Well, it’s been a bit over a day since Alfie went home, and perhaps we can start to draw some lessons. For me, personally, it has been a long time since I have been called both ignorant and stupid, within two sentences. I found it rather funny, in truth, since I know what I believe and why. It has been built up over many years and does not change with the wind. And besides, I understand that some Britons believe the state to be god, and the NHS its religion, so I’m an apostate. I’ve learned better, as has anybody that has studied American history.

Over Christmas in 2013, Jessica undertook to analyze in part Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Commencement Address at Harvard in 1978. Applying it to Alfie’s ordeal is illuminating, I think. As Jess indicated, many expected it to be a paean to the west from a man who escaped from the Soviet system. It was anything but. He deplored the Soviet system, but he saw very clearly the flaws in the west, those cracks have widened considerably since 1978, and now threaten to tear us asunder.

In her post entitled The Exhausted West?, she quoted this:

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

It’s a theme we hit hard and often here, libertinism opposed to liberty with its duties.

The West was, he said, ‘spiritually exhausted’. The ‘human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.’

The origin of this decadence lay, Solzhenitsyn suggested, in the anthropocentric views of man’s destiny which came in with the secular thinking of the Enlightenment. Man was at the centre of all things, and the ends for which he was meant were material ones:

As an aside, I believe and Melanie Phillips wrote convincingly that:

Some of this hostility is being driven by the perceived threat from Islamic terrorism and the Islamisation of Western culture. However, this animus against religion has far deeper roots and can be traced back to what is considered the birthplace of Western reason, the 18th-century Enlightenment.

Actually, it goes back specifically to the French Enlightenment. In England and Scotland, the Enlightenment developed reason and political liberty within the framework of Biblical belief. In France, by contrast, anti-clericalism morphed into fundamental hostility to Christianity and to religion itself.

“Ecrasez l’infame,” said Voltaire (crush infamy) — the infamy to which he referred being not just the Church but Christianity, which he wanted to replace with the religion of reason, virtue and liberty, “drawn from the bosom of nature”.

Returning to Jessica’s point.

Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our day there is a free and constant flow. Mere freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones. 

All very very true, and phrased better than I could have then or can now. In her next post, Light from the East?, she continued the thinking with this:

in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility.

When America’s Founding Fathers separated Church and State they did not do so because they were atheists or thought Christianity wrong, they did so because they did not want one Church to dominate in their society; they do, indeed, seem to have assumed that man would be bound by the responsibilities which the Christian faith laid upon him; realists, they did not think man would always live up to these, but they did not see freedom as license; can we now say that of ourselves and our leaders? What is it which binds us? […]

Solzhenitsyn’s critique is a Christian one:

There is a disaster, however, that has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.

Of such consciousness man is the touchstone, in judging everything on earth. Imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes that were not noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our day we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity, which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

I doubt that I am the only one to see this applying to the NHS certainly, but also to the lawyers, and judges of the British legal system. My question for them is this, “What besides self-pride, drove you to remove Alfie’s parent’s God-given responsibility for their son, even to prevent them from choosing another caregiver, futile though it may well have been. What were they so afraid of that they were willing to risk a storm from Europe, especially Italy and Poland,  and the United States? I think it was exactly that exacerbated by the fact that the Italian hospital is supported by the Vatican. How shameful if Christians could help this little boy when the minor god-emperors of the NHS could not. Remember this is the health care system that was hubristic enough to proclaim themselves, at the 2012 Olympic games, as the best in the world. While providing 2d world, at best, care to their inmates.

For a true understanding of man’s real destiny, God is essential:

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature.

But if we refuse to recognise this, or think it of no importance, then we shan’t see any reasons for exercising any self-restraint save for that imposed by the law – and if the law is the only guide we have, then we have become a society without a spirit of self-sacrifice or restraint:

People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting, and manipulating law. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law, and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required. Nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice, and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. 

And that is the root of the decadence in our societies, and why they will not last as they are. How they will change, is not in sight, perhaps they will reform, under duress, as they have before, perhaps our societies will be subsumed in Islam, perhaps something else, but what cannot continue, won’t. And that is the lesson Alfie has for us.

 

Of Elections and Counter Revolutions

Tomorrow Britain votes in a general election, the prime contenders are Boris Johnson of the (not) Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn of the CPSU Labour Party. What’s going to happen is anybody’s guess. There are several smaller parties including The Brexit Party that ran the table in the European elections, but has recently waned, although they might pick up a seat or so, there is the UnLiberal Not Democrats who will take remainer votes (maybe) from Labour. UKIP has a few candidates and an outstanding Manifesto, which means little since they’ll be very lucky to get one seat, and more, including The Monster Raving Loony Party which is a good description of this election.

The best write up I’ve seen is this, from Law and Liberty The best ad I’ve seen is this new one from the Conservatives.

Pretty cute, and just a bit Trumpian. That’s important, Britain is fighting the same revolution we are, against their own deep state and the politicians embedded in it. So we’ll see. Not least if Boris can break free from his own swamp background.


Then there is Washington, where the House has gone not so much extra-constitutional as downright anti-constitutional. Well, we know how that plays in Peoria, don’t we? Christopher Knight in American Thinker is good on this.

When I consider Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and Jerry Nadler maneuvering for impeachment of President Donald Trump, it is with some dark bewilderment. They have no idea what disaster they are courting for themselves and their allies. It will not end well for them. […]

Since the summer of 2015 the hardliners of the Deep State have gazed at Trump with derision, then desperation, and now total destruction in mind. To them the American people simply aren’t meant for a loosening of control and regaining oversight of their own government. Trump’s message resonated with those same American people as had nothing in recent memory. Democracy came to Eastern Europe by ballots and not bullets. So too did American citizenry in flyover country begin to revolt against their elitist masters.

It wasn’t part of “the plan” and perhaps for the first time ever, the Deep State shuddered in fear. The revolution was not only televised, it was splayed across Facebook and Twitter. But if not Trump himself, someone else would have inevitably threatened the entrenched political and media complex. The peril would come. It was only a matter of when. […]

Who among the faces of this “glorious revolution” will win the White House in 2020? It may be the most lackluster field of candidates in modern history. Which alone indicates to me that Trump would be too smart than to level unethical sabotage against any political opponent: Joseph Biden will never be as formidable as even George McGovern. And Adam Schiff as the one who will go down in legend as the man who toppled the President? Oh please….

In short, it’s pretty much all over, but the executions err trials. What could rekindle the whole mess? You know as well as I, and I think Barr and Durham know it as well. If that happens, the half a billion privately owned arms held by the foresight of the founder’s might make an appearance. Not to be wished, it is a doomsday alternative, but it is more likely than at any time since 1865.

Sunday Funnies; Narwhal Tusks and Impeachment

Another week nearly beyond description, but we’ll try

There are still, I guess, Democrats who want to be president, but they have it wrong, we usually don’t elect the most stupid candidate. 2d most maybe, but not the most.

I can’t really blame Nancy Pelosi for running away from reality last week though.

Die Hard Advent Calendar

And, of course:

Or maybe this suits this audience better

How about an advent special?

NATO at 70, Uncivil Serpents, and Doing the Right Thing

So, this week looks like it will be about foreign affairs – until something changes, I reckon. But that’s where we start.

The North Atlantic signatories are meeting today and tomorrow in Britain. There is a lot of noise, between the president’s concern about European funding, which is certainly justified, French (which has not been a military member since the 1960s) carping about this and that. Macron is only staying for one day, he has other problems. There is a general strike coming in France on 5 December, that will pretty much shut the joint down. Not to mention the shouting matches between Macron and Erdoğan of Turkey.

In a sense, this looks to me like an alliance looking for a purpose. 70 years ago when it was formed under US and UK leadership it clearly was a counterpoint to the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. That war ended 30 years ago, and it seems to me that NATO doesn’t have a real mission anymore. It’s protected by deep state practitioners in all the allied countries, a fair number of whom seem to have not gotten the memo that the cold war is over.

Rule 5 is the heart of the whole thing. It is the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all, and lead to the American assertion (in the bad old days) that America’s eastern border was the Elbe River. That was good sense and admirable clarity. But now what? Some vague line in the middle of Ukraine, the Turkish, Syrian border. Really? Do we want to commit American boys and girls to fight for those things?

In many ways, Europe for the United States, and perhaps for Russia as well, has become a backwater, and its stultifying economy and penchant for internecine dispute and internal imperialism strengthens that notion. So the real question is Quo Vadis.

More here and here.

So in the middle of an election campaign, this is the team that Boris Johnson will attempt to harness this week. Good luck with that, he’ll need a barge load, I suspect.

When we talk about the deep state, we are referring to the same thing as the cousins call the Civil Service (actually most of my friends refer to them as uncivil serpents, for cause). It happens in all bureaucracies, people get aligned with something and no matter what the politicians do, there they stand.

One of the worst cases was in Neville Chamberlin’s tenure in Downing Street. Adrian Phillips wrote the book on Sir Horace Wilson. He published an excerpt on History News Network this weekend, and it looks fascinating. A paragraph or so:

In 1941, as his time in office drew to a close, the head of the British Civil Service, Sir Horace Wilson, sat down to write an account of the government policy with which he had been most closely associated. It was also the defining policy of Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister whom Wilson had served as his closest adviser throughout his time in office. It had brought Chamberlain immense prestige, but this had been followed very shortly afterwards by near-universal criticism. Under the title ‘Munich, 1938’, Wilson gave his version of the events leading up to the Munich conference of 30 September 1938, which had prevented – or, as proved to be the case, delayed – the outbreak of another world war at the cost of the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. By then the word ‘appeasement’ had acquired a thoroughly derogatory meaning. Chamberlain had died in 1940, leaving Wilson to defend their joint reputation. Both men had been driven by the highest of motivations: the desire to prevent war. Both had been completely convinced that their policy was the correct one at the time and neither ever admitted afterwards that they might have been wrong.

The book has joined my list, which you’ll not be surprised, is long, but this looks very good. It also appears to bear on much of what we have talked about today.

Churchill apparently never said that “Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.”  But it’s a fair bet that he thought it pretty often, and pretty often it is true. But we do most often get around to doing the right thing.

As we did with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. It’s not something we can credibly go to war about, as I said back on 15 June, this is likely to be a replay of Hungary in 1956, where we simply cannot physically support our friends.

But we eventually found a way, that will hurt China if they suppress the Hong Kongers without a direct military challenge. But look again at the picture that accompanied the article in June (pretty close to the beginning of the protests). Who are they looking to for help? Right, the British, after all, Hong Kong is a former Crown Colony. But that soon changes as the Hong Kongers realized that Britain wasn’t going to be there for them, and so the flags changed, from flags with the Union Flag, or the Union Flag itself, to the American flag. That change was important, for the US does have a habit of as John Kennedy said.

 We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

  Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

And so we found a way, a no doubt an imperfect way, but the American people first, and then the US government moved to align ourselves once again with freedom, and against tyranny.

The sad part is that Britain should have been on the rampart with us, but was MIA when it counted, whether they were too preoccupied with Brexit, or too in hock to their Chinese paymasters (as some say), or still another reason, doesn’t really matter. When it mattered, they, like Achille, were skulking in their tent. A sad commentary.

What wasn’t sad all, was that these polite protestors, brought out their flags, and even the new poster of our President, and sang our National Anthem by way of saying “Thank You”. I’d trade our leftists for these brave people anytime. What great Americans they’d make!

Things to be Thankful For: Citizen Soldiers

Imperial War Museum

This is the time of year that we tend to be more thankful than other times. For me, that often comes down to our soldiers. And what drives me nearly around the bend is what Kipling described as “O makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep”. One of the sources for the quote that seems misattributed to George Orwell. It’s been pretty endemic most of my life and always rubs me the wrong way. Here’s one of them

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Ronald W. McLean (MCSN: 0-105587), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company A, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, THIRD Marine Division in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 8 June 1969, First Lieutenant McLean’s six-man reconnaissance team was patrolling eleven miles northwest of the Vandegrift Combat Base in Quang Tri Province when it became heavily engaged with an enemy force. Realizing the Marines needed a more tenable position, First Lieutenant McLean unhesitatingly exposed himself to the hostile rounds impacting around him and fired his M-79 grenade launcher into the midst of the enemy, killing two hostile soldiers and enabling his team to maneuver to a more defensible position. After the dead soldiers had been searched and the team had retrieved documents of intelligence value, the Marines were attacked by a platoon-sized hostile force. Reacting immediately, First Lieutenant McLean fired his grenade launcher at the enemy and killed five more hostile solders. Observing one of his men fall wounded, he boldly ignored the hostile rounds directed at him to give medical assistance to his comrade. As he was rendering first aid to the injured man, he alertly observed a hostile soldier preparing to fire on their position. Completely disregarding his own safety, he shoved his companion down and was mortally wounded by the enemy fire. His bold initiative and heroic efforts inspired all who observed him and accounted for eight enemy soldiers killed. By his courage, aggressive leadership and steadfast devotion to duty, First Lieutenant McLean upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
Action Date: June 8, 1969

As always, the citation of a posthumous award tells us of the gallant way he or she died, but little of his life. That’s often interesting too. In this case, what jumps out is that his hometown was Beverly Hills, California.

LT McLean had a stepfather who outlived him, which is kind of amazing considering he (the stepfather) was assigned as operations officer of the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group, a B-24 Liberator unit soon to be sent to the war in Europe. On 20 January 1944, he was promoted Major and served as deputy commander of the 2d Bombardment Wing during what we remember as “Big Week”, where we and the RAF broke the back of the Luftwaffe. On 29 March 1945, he was promoted Colonel and given command of the 2d Bombardment Wing. Since he had enlisted after failing his draft physical, he had gone from Private to Colonel in four years.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster (two awards); the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Distinguished Service Medal; and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme (France).

Unusually for a citizen soldier, he remained a reserve officer and was promoted Brigadier General by President Eisenhower on 23 July 1959. During his career, he remained current on B-36, B-47, and B-52 aircraft, as well as joining the Mach II club in a B-58 Hustler.

Brigadier General James M. (“Jimmy”) Stewart, USAFR (center) with the crew of B-52F Stratofortress 57-149, at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, 20 February 1966. (U.S. Air Force)

But wait there’s more…”20 February 1966: he, flew the last combat mission of his military career, a 12 hour, 50 minute “Arc Light” bombing mission over Vietnam, aboard Boeing B-52 Stratofortress of the 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bombardment Wing. His bomber was a B-52F-65-BW, serial number 57-149, call sign GREEN TWO. It was the number two aircraft in a 30-airplane bomber stream.”

That was his part-time job, as a citizen-soldier, many are more familiar with his other career, as an actor. In fact if you are like me, you will watch at least one of his movies between now and Christmas. It’s become rather a tradition for many of us. It’s called It’s a Wonderful Life and he is indeed Brigadier General James Maitland Stewart, US Air Force Reserve. He died of a heart attack on 2 July 1997.

Many thanks to This Day in Aviation for providing accurate information on both of these citizen soldiers’ lives. There are more pictures there too.

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