The Jimmy Stewart You Never Knew: World War II Squadron Commander

In March 1941, Jimmy Stewart, America’s boy next door and recent Academy Award winner, left fame and fortune behind and joined the United States Army Air Corps to fulfill his family mission and serve his country. He rose from private to colonel and participated in 20 often-brutal World War II combat missions over Germany and France. In mere months, the war took away his boyish looks as he faced near-death experiences and the loss of men under his command. The war finally won, he returned home with millions of other veterans to face an uncertain future, suffering what we now know as PTSD. For the next half century, Stewart refused to discuss his combat experiences and took the story of his service to the grave.

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In Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, author Robert Matzen presents the first in-depth look at Stewart’s life as a Squadron Commander in the skies over Germany, and, his return to Hollywood the changed man who embarked on production of America’s most beloved holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. Matzen sifted through thousands of Air Force combat reports and the Stewart personnel files; interviewed surviving aviators who flew with Stewart; visited the James Stewart Papers at Brigham Young University; flew in the cockpits of the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator; and walked the earth of air bases in England used by Stewart in his combat missions from 1943-45. What emerges is the story of a Jimmy Stewart you never knew, a story more fantastic than any he brought to the screen.

Matzen joined Glenn on radio Thursday to talk about Mission and the life of one of America's most beloved and iconic cinema stars.

Read below or listen to the full segment for answers to these questions:

• Did Matzen reveal any skeletons that ruined Glenn's view of Stewart?

• Which relatives of Stewart's fought in the Civil War?

• Were the snowy scenes in It's a Wonderful Life shot in the Mojave Desert?

• How did the war change Stewart as a man?

• How many missions did Stewart fly and which one cracked his plane in half?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Hello, and welcome -- welcome to the program. I was reading an article about Jimmy Stewart. This new book out that's called Mission. And I learned some stuff about Jimmy Stewart that I really wasn't aware of and especially what was happening with him when he came back to film --

PAT: Glenn, don't you know me?

GLENN: Yeah. Okay.

PAT: Don't you know me, Glenn?

GLENN: So when he was filming that, he and Frank Capra were going through PTSD, which nobody talked about back then.

PAT: Uh-uh.

GLENN: And Jimmy Stewart was quite an amazing guy. Robert Matzen is the author of Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe. And we wanted to get him on.

Robert, welcome to the program. How are you?

ROBERT: I'm great. Thanks for having me on.

GLENN: You bet.

So tell me what we don't know about Jimmy Stewart.

ROBERT: Well, in the context of It's a Wonderful Life, he had just come back from the most horrific combat experiences over the skies of Europe that you could imagine.

GLENN: Now, he was not -- he was not -- you know, as a celebrity, he could have gone and done anything over in World War II. But he didn't. He really signed up and was like, "No, I really want to fight."

ROBERT: Yeah. He -- the war department and Hollywood both wanted to keep him stateside, of course, because nothing good could come of a Hollywood star being shot down over Germany.

PAT: That's for sure.

ROBERT: So he had to buck those headwinds to get overseas, and he managed to do it. It took him two years.

PAT: And so what -- what exactly was his job when he was over there? What did he do? You said in the skies over Europe. He wasn't a pilot, was he?

ROBERT: He was a pilot. He was a bomber pilot.

PAT: He was a pilot. Wow.

ROBERT: He had been a private pilot in his Hollywood years. That was the first thing he did when he earned a Hollywood paycheck, was learn to fly, and then he bought his own plane. And so he was ready. He wanted to serve. And he wanted to serve as an Army pilot, and that's exactly what he did.

And at first, he was training other pilots stateside that was eating him alive. He wanted to go fight. And finally he did get a combat assignment as a squadron commander in a heavy bomb group that went over to England in 1943.

PAT: This guy was almost too good to be true, wasn't he? An American patriot. American hero. A tremendous actor. Married to the same woman virtually his whole life. Right? No major scandals that we know of. Am I --

GLENN: And if we do, we don't necessarily want to know about them.

PAT: Right.

GLENN: I mean, this is a book -- I want to read it over the Christmas holiday. Because I love Jimmy Stewart. Is this -- are you going to wreck him for me?

ROBERT: No, I'm not going to wreck him for you. I went into this project neutral on the guy. I mean, not a fan, per se. Everybody loves It's a Wonderful Life. Well, almost everybody.

But I grew to admire him tremendously, through learning about the 20 combat missions that he went through and what he was like when he came back. You know, refusing to talk about what it was like over there.

GLENN: So when he was on the set -- because Frank Capra -- what was Frank Capra doing the war?

ROBERT: And Frank Capra was making patriotic films. Films to let Americans know what was going on overseas. Who the enemy was. What our boys were doing over there.

So his experience wasn't like Jim's. But Frank was away for four years from Hollywood, and Jim was away for five. I mean, Jim slammed the door on Hollywood and left it behind.

And so he's coming back as, really, a middle-aged man. There's a photo in the book that's a before shot in 1942 of this fresh-faced Jimmy Stewart. Just got his wings. Second lieutenant.

Two years later, he looks like a haggard old man. By then, it looks like 14 combat missions in three months. So when -- by the time they reached the set of its a wonderful life, they were both feeling, "This is make or break for me." If I don't make this work, my career is over. They were both thinking that.

And so the set was extremely tense. It was nothing like you would think it would be.

GLENN: So it was shot in California. The snowy scene is happening in California in the middle of June. Right?

ROBERT: In the Mojave Desert. At 90 degrees. That's right.

GLENN: In the desert.

PAT: Jeez. Wow.

ROBERT: Yeah.

GLENN: And I got the impression from what the story -- I don't even remember where I read this, but it was about your book. And I got the impression that that was -- it was just rife with problems.

ROBERT: Well, that particular scene was shot at the RKO ranch in Encino. And they had to really invent a new type of snow that could withstand the heat and could still be slushy, could still look and feel like snow. So, yeah, I mean, it was a tough shoot.

But the whole movie -- if you look at the movie, it's an extravagant picture with a tremendous number of setups. They re-created that whole main street of Bedford Falls. A lot of interior shots -- everything that was -- all the bridge sequences where Clarence jumps in the water and Jim jumps in, those were all done in the studio. And that took weeks to get it right. Capra was a perfectionist. A lot went into that movie.

GLENN: And did they have any idea -- did Jimmy Stewart have any idea of what that movie was going to be at the end of it?

ROBERT: No. He was disappointed in how it turned out. He was always a populist in the sense that if the public liked his picture, he liked his picture. If the public didn't react like he wanted, then he didn't like the picture.

And It's a Wonderful Life was made right at the end of the war. You know, a war-weary America I don't think was ready for this particular picture, and it took another ten years before it was embraced. And that was by television. And that's when Jim started to warm up to it, when everybody else did.

GLENN: How did he change -- how did the war change him overall as a man?

ROBERT: Before the war, I spent a fair amount of time talking about his romantic adventures with A-List Hollywood actresses. And he went through all of them.

GLENN: He was a player? Jimmy Stewart was a player?

ROBERT: He was a player. Big-time.

JEFFY: He told you he wasn't going to ruin him for you.

(laughter)

GLENN: Wow. I had no idea.

ROBERT: Yeah.

GLENN: Player. Okay.

ROBERT: Because here he is -- he's 6-4 and 140 pounds.

PAT: Jeez.

ROBERT: And he thought he was just this gangly guy that no one would find attractive. So he had to prove to himself that he was attractive. That was his pre-war thing.

But when he came back, he realized how superficial that was. He didn't need to prove that to himself anymore. He had also proved the other thing that he needed to prove, which was that he was brave enough to represent the Stewart family. And that's what Mission is really all about, is his family mission to serve their country. And he proved that to himself.

So he came back as a mature person who had been seasoned by all this death and devastation. And that's why he was ready to settle down. And he did it beautifully. And he also carved this career that emphasized the darker side of him that had come out of the war. This hardened, tough man came out of the war. And he started to play tough roles.

GLENN: What do you mean his family -- his family had a long history of war --

ROBERT: Oh, yeah.

GLENN: -- heroes?

ROBERT: Both of his grandfathers were in the Civil War. One of them was a hero of the second day of Gettysburg, at Little Round Top. And the other one served with Custer in the Shenandoah Valley. And so -- and that grandfather also named James M. Stewart lived into the 1930s. And Jim learned all about war from someone who saw Lee surrender to Grant at Appomattox.

PAT: Wow.

GLENN: Do these kind of guys exist anymore?

ROBERT: You know, I've been asked that.

And Pat Tillman comes to mind, you know. Someone who just walked away from a very successful public career to serve. But they are few and far between. But even in Jim's time, they were few and far between.

GLENN: Because most people, they just -- they would do their rounds, and they would be seen in the uniform. They would raise money. Raise awareness. And not actually go in and fight.

Was it -- was he a believer in what he was fighting against or just a believer of what he was fighting for?

ROBERT: Boy, that's a great question.

Both. I think both. He was a tremendous believer in the cause. And it was the happiest time in his life, he said that often. He said he was never happier than doing this righteous thing for this righteous cause.

GLENN: That was -- I mean, being a pilot in World War II, it was quite surprising that he lived, honestly. I mean, how many missions did he fly?

ROBERT: He flew 20 exactly. And at one point, on one of his missions, on February 25th, 1944, an anti-aircraft shell hit the flight deck of his B-24 Liberator and blew a hole between his feet, two feet across. And his map case fell out the hole and went down to Germany. And that was one mission too many. When he landed that plane, it cracked in half.

I mean, that's just -- that was his closest brush with death. But he had more than that. And that's what people just don't know. That's the guy -- that's his backstory, when you watch It's a Wonderful Life. He had just been there. And he had just done that.

GLENN: Hmm. Robert Matzen, thank you for the time that you spent on looking at this man's life and telling us the truth about who he really was. Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen. Great gift for anybody like me who just loves Jimmy Stewart and loves a good story of history that you've never heard before. Robert Matzen. Mission is the name of the book.

Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

ROBERT: Thanks, Glenn.

GLENN: You bet. God bless.

Featured Image: Lt. Gen. Valin, Chief of Staff, French Air Force, awarding Croix De Guerre with palm to Col. James Stewart (Photo: US Air Force).

The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on subpoenas to compel Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on alleged censorship and bias across their platforms. But that all changed when Republican committee members "expressed reservation about the maneuver," Politico reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, was definitely not one of the committee members with cold feet. On the radio program Tuesday, he told Glenn Beck that he's fighting "vociferously" to ensure Dorsey and others testify before the November 3rd election.

"Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg are both going to testify. They're are going to testify in person. They're going to testify before Election Day. That's what I think should happen," Cruz said. "That's what I'm fighting vociferously to happen. Right now, the companies are negotiating with the chairman's office to discuss terms to come voluntarily. I don't give a damn whether they come voluntarily or under subpoena. They need to testify in person and answer questions for the American people about why they are trying to steal this election, to suppress the free speech, and to censor the press."

The subpoenas would require Big Tech leaders to testify on the alleged "suppression and/or censorship" of two consecutive blockbuster stories from the New York Post. The first story was about emails that allegedly came from Hunter Biden's computer which are currently being investigated by the FBI, and the second was based on additional emails that allegedly showed communist China directly offering millions of dollars to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

"Big Tech stepped in, and they've done something they've never done before," Cruz explained. "We know that Big Tech has been censoring individual conservatives, trying to suppress conservative speech. But the step they took here is, they blocked if any individual user tried to share either of the New York Post stories, [they] were blocked ... Sharing a news story, from a major media outlet is part of democracy, part of free speech. And not only that, they blocked the New York Post itself. Right now, today, the New York Post is not being allowed to post its own damn stories on corruption. This is ridiculous. It's a threshold that's never been crossed before, of Silicon Valley oligarchs declaring the authority to determine what the press is allowed to report, and who is allowed to see it."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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If we learned nothing from the media over the past 4 years it's that colluding with a foreign entity to either win an election or for personal gain is absolutely grotesque. Well, that depends on whether you have a (D) or (R) before your name anyway. President Trump was impeached on rumor and innuendo yet Joe Biden has all but skated on his corruption up to this point.

Below is a timeline that shows the level of corruption and the lengths the Biden's went to in order to build that family's wealth and influence internationally.

2009

In 2009, Joe Biden was the brand-new Vice President and John Kerry was a U.S. Senator. Just five months after Joe was sworn in, his son Hunter, and Kerry's stepson, Christopher Heinz, formed an international private equity firm called Rosemont Capital. It had several different branches, including one called Rosemont Seneca Partners.

2010

Just nine months after Rosemont Seneca opened its doors, Hunter Biden went to China for meetings with executives from China's biggest banks, and its sovereign wealth and social security funds. That's unheard-of access for a brand-new firm. Was it just coincidence that at the same time Hunter was meeting these Chinese bigwigs, his dad was meeting with China's then-president Hu Jintao in Washington DC at a nuclear security summit?

2011

In May 2011, Joe Biden met with Chinese officials for the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue conference in Washington. Just two weeks later, Hunter Biden went to Taiwan for meetings with the same Chinese financial giants he'd met in China in 2010, plus some new ones.

2013

By December 2013, Joe Biden was enjoying his second term as VP, and John Kerry was now Secretary of State. That's when Joe traveled to Beijing on an extended official trip and Hunter traveled with him on Air Force Two.

During their stay, Vice President Biden met with President Xi and Hunter was mostly out of sight. We don't know exactly what he was up to, but the deal finalized between Rosemont Seneca and the Bank of China just ten days after the Bidens' trip pretty much gives it away. The most powerful financial institution in China formed a joint venture with tiny Rosemont Seneca to create a giant new investment firm called Bohai Harvest RST – the "RS" stands for Rosemont Seneca.

The firm is often called "BHR" for short.

Hunter Biden was a member of the Board. Remember, the Bank of China is government-owned, which means its business is completely intertwined with the goals of the Chinese Communist Party. BHR also got the freedom to operate in the newly created Shanghai Free-Trade Zone where, over the next six years, it would use $2.5 billion of Chinese government money to invest in China, as well as in other countries, including the U.S.

During their Beijing trip, Hunter also introduced Jonathan Li to his dad. Li is Hunter's business partner – he's CEO and Director of BHR.

Hunter arranged for Joe to meet Li in the lobby of the hotel where they stayed during their Beijing trip.

2014

In 2014, one of BHR's first major investments was in the China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

CGN is a Chinese government-owned nuclear power company that sold off a stake of the company to outside investors. Problem is, CGN was under FBI investigation for paying informants in the U.S. to steal nuclear secrets.

In 2016, the FBI arrested the ringleader of this nuclear espionage, a man named Allen Ho.

When they arrested Ho, he was using a random code generator to access funds being provided to him from – where else? – the Bank of China.

Yet while this FBI probe was going on, the son of the Vice President owned a stake in the company being investigated. And even after arrests were made, Rosemont Seneca did not alter its relationship with BHR, nor did it divest from CGN, even though it was stealing U.S. nuclear secrets.

2015

In 2015, BHR partnered with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to buy an American company called Henniges for $600 million.

AVIC is a gigantic military contractor in China – think Lockheed Martin – that makes fighter jets, bombers and drones. BHR bought 49% of Henniges and AVIC bought 51%.

Henniges is a precision parts manufacturer specializing in anti-vibration technology. The stuff they make is known as "dual use" by the U.S. State Department, which means the technology can also have a military application.

Because of that, the deal had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) since it could have national security implications. The thing is, the American side of BHR – meaning Hunter Biden and his pals – had to know there were serious national security implications with AVIC.

The year before they formed a partnership with AVIC, the Wall Street Journal reported how AVIC stole technology related to the U.S. Air Force's F-35 stealth fighter and used it in its own stealth fighter for the Chinese.

How the Committee on Foreign Investment approved that deal remains a mystery. CFIUS does not publicly disclose any information regarding its decisions. Their findings are not publicly announced.

Interesting that China accounted for the largest share – with 74 transactions – approved by CFIUS during Obama's second term (2013-2015).

Under the umbrella of Rosemont Capital was a real estate company called Rosemont Realty. In 2015, a Chinese company called Gemini Investments bought a 75% stake in Rosemont Realty. The company was renamed Gemini Rosemont

Gemini brought $3 billion to the partnership with Rosemont, with the aim of buying "Class A institutional-quality commercial office properties in U.S. markets."

Red flag (literally) – Gemini Investments is a subsidiary of the China Ocean Shipping Company, a.k.a., "COSCO."

COSCO is a Chinese government-owned company. Its headquarters in Beijing is actually next to the headquarters of the Bank of China. COSCO is well-known for its close military ties. It's essentially a branch of the Chinese Navy.

2017

In 2017, BHR invested in Face++. That's the facial recognition phone app built by a Chinese company that is incorporated in a separate app built by the Chinese government. Police in the Xinjiang [Sin-jong] region of China use that app to keep tabs on citizens, and track and detain Uiguhr [Wee-ger] Muslims.

The app allows police easy access to data about Chinese Muslims including things like religious activity, blood type, and even the amount of electricity they use.

2018

In March 2018, a spokesman (Chris Bastardi) for Christopher Heinz (John Kerry's stepson) emailed The Hill to say that Heinz had "no operating role" in Rosemont Seneca, and that he was not involved in any of Rosemont's deals in China (which contradicts Schweizer's report in his book Secret Empires).

Chris Heinz was involved in Rosemont Capital. Rosemont Seneca was established under the same GP as Rosemont Capital, but Chris Heinz had no operating role in it. Chris and his family have no financial interest or investment in Bohai Harvest RST, he has never traveled to China, and he has never met with the firm's Chinese management team or investors.

2019

In October 2019, Hunter Biden's lawyer, George Mesires, said Hunter did not conduct any business on that 2013 trip to Beijing with his Dad.

Mesires said the timing of BHR's business license getting approved was purely coincidental because the paperwork had been submitted months before the Bidens' China trip.

According to Hunter's lawyer, the approval " was not related in any way, shape or form to Hunter's visit."

Hunter Biden finally stepped down from the BHR board last October (2019), but he DID NOT give up his 10% stake in the company.

When Bevan Cooney — the former "junior" business partner to Hunter Biden and Devon Archer — went to jail in 2019, investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer thought he'd never gain access to the damning emails Cooney had promised. That all changed three weeks ago when Schweizer was given complete access to Cooney's gmail account.

Schweizer joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to describe just some of the business deals revealed within these emails — like Hunter working with an alleged Russian criminal and with Chinese communists to secure their assets, or to secure one-on-one time with his dad, then-Vice President Joe Biden. And all of this new information is completely separate from the emails allegedly discovered on Hunter Biden's laptop recently reported by the New York Post.

"So, I want to make this clear. This [Cooney's emails] has nothing to do with what's on the laptop … It didn't come from [Rudy] Giuliani. It didn't come from anybody else, right?" Glenn asked Schweizer.

"That's absolutely correct," Schweizer confirmed.

He briefly explained how Cooney, a former Los Angeles nightclub owner, is currently serving a prison sentence for his involvement in a fraudulent business bond scheme with Biden and Archer. From prison, Cooney gave Schweizer written permission to access his Gmail account.

"This is really important," he noted. "We're not looking at printouts. Not looking at PDFs. We're actually in his Gmail accounts themselves, sifting through these emails. And there's a shocking amount of information about deals involving China, involving Russia, involving all sorts of things they were trying to pull off."

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The king of "No Spin" and bestselling author of "Killing Crazy Horse," Bill O'Reilly joined Glenn Beck on this week's podcast to talk about the latest developments in Joe Biden's Ukraine and China corruption scandal. Now that some of the details are finally coming out in the open, does the average Democrat care? Maybe, but the Left doesn't seem to.

O'Reilly argued there's more hatred for President Donald Trump now than in 2016, and that some people hate President Trump so much that they'd rather vote for the "senile, corrupt" Joe Biden.

"Hunter got tens of millions of dollars from Ukraine, from Russia, from China because his father was vice president. I have no doubt in my mind," O'Reilly said. "But the hatred for Donald Trump overrides that in the minds of millions of viewers. They're saying, 'You know, we'd rather have the senile corrupt guy than Trump.'"

Asked by Glenn if any other Republican running for president would be met with the same level of vitriol, O'Reilly answered, "The Left is the Left. They don't like America. The want to redo the Constitution. They want to take some of our freedoms, like the Second Amendment and the First Amendment, and change them. And they want to destroy capitalism and replace it with a big centralized government in Washington that controls the economy … but I'm talking about the folks. I have liberal friends and I say to them, 'Do you not understand that when you vote for Biden, you're voting against your own self interest?'"

Watch the video clip from the full podcast below, or find the full episode HERE:

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