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Distinguished Aviator Jimmy Stewart

The Order of Daedalians has bestowed a special recognition on deceased Maj. Gen. Jimmy Stewart, USAFR (Ret.) as a distinguished aviator. Throughout his life, General Stewart embodied the tenets of a Daedalian: to place nation above self, and to be worthy of the trust and confidence of a fellow Daedalian.  

After initially being rejected from service when drafted in 1941, General Stewart worked to overcome being underweight and successfully enlisted of his own accord. His 400 hours of civilian flying time and commercial license resulted in his being commissioned into the Army Air Corps. He volunteered to be assigned to combat, where he served as commander of a B-24 squadron, flew twenty combat missions, was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals, and the Croix De Guerre. At the end of the war, he had progressed to the rank of Colonel and joined the Air Force Reserve. Stewart continued to serve, flying a B-52 combat mission over Vietnam in 1966 at the age of 57. Maj. Gen. Stewart ultimately wore the uniform for twenty-seven years. 

A request to review possible options for membership to honor Maj. Gen. Jimmy Stewart was submitted to headquarters by Founders Flight 1. This consideration was brought by flight member Col. Paul Nelson and friend of flight, Chaplain Capt. Moser who had been in contact with General Stewart’s daughter, Dr. Kelly Harcourt. As membership cannot be granted posthumously, the proposal prepared by executive director Maureen DeFelice was reviewed by the Board and consistent with the Order bylaws, this request for a special memorial recognition was approved. The nature of this special honor reflects credit on the integrity of our organization, and on General Stewart’s example in upholding the love of country and self-sacrifice embodied in our founding members. 

At the Founders’ Flight meeting held at Maxwell AFB, Alabama on 22 July, this honor was presented with Dr. Kelly Harcourt in attendance virtually and Maj. Gen. Allen, national commander, participating in person. Dr. Harcourt shared remarks about her father, Maj. Gen. Allen presented the certificate recognizing Maj. Gen. Stewart to Lyndsey Moser, and son James Stewart Moser. Toasts were raised in honor of General Stewart and led by Col JC Carter. Many thanks to flight captain Maj. Travis Neal for championing the event and to Maj. Ben Peacock for coordinating the activities and making it a success. 

As General Allen stated during the presentation “He was reluctant to talk about his strong combat leadership in Europe while serving as bomb squadron commander and group operations officer. This modesty, plus his personal goal that he wanted people to remember him as someone who meant what he said, show clearly that he valued service over self and was worthy of the trust and confidence of his fellow aviators.” We are honored to have recognized his achievements and contributions as a distinguished aviator. 

View the presentation here.