What do you get when a WWII American Fighter Ace has the same name as a Hollywood icon and doesn’t get rid of anything? The Lt. Col. James C Stewart Collection! Amy Heidrick, Associate Director of Collections, delves into the archives of the American Fighter Aces Association to reveal the stories that these objects tell about being a fighter ace during WWII. One of our most robust collections belongs to Lt. Col. James C. Stewart, or Jimmy Stewart as he was known. He happened to be serving in the European theater at the same time as the Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart, which led to some interesting items being included in his collection, like misdirected fan mail. According to Heidrick, “Jimmy Stewart didn’t get rid of anything, it seems,” which leaves us with a robust collection of uniforms, survival gear, and photographs. The survival kit, which hasn’t been opened in 70 years, contains some interesting items. “There’s a fishing kit,” says Heidrick. “If you had to bail out, perhaps over the ocean, and you were in a raft, you would have a fishing kit. There’s different kinds of lures, different kinds of fish hooks, lines, anything you would need to potentially fish in the middle of the ocean.” Some more notable items include food items with directions not to leave the wrapper laying around after use; loose lips sink ships, after all.
Looking to learn more about the American Fighter Aces? Check out our J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing and our Digital Archives Oral History Collection.
Host: Sean Mobley
Producer: Sean Mobley
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