Lt. Col. Harry Stewart

This is my painting honoring Lt. Col. Harry Stewart . He signed up with the US Army Air Corps on his 18th birthday and completed his pilot training at Tuskegee Army Airfield on June 25th, 1944. Shortly afterward, he was sent to Italy as a part of the 332nd Fighter Group, the “Red Tails”.

Harry flew 43 combat missions escorting B-17s and B-24s over Italy, Germany, and Austria. On one of these missions, he encountered 3 Focke Wulf 190 German fighters and after a few wild minutes, downed them all.

After the war ended, he stayed in what was now the United States Air Force. Most of the pilots and ground crew from the 332nd, realizing that there was much opportunity outside of the USAF, had decided to stay in. They were now flying the P-47N Thunderbolt.

In 1949, the USAF had its first gunnery meet. Each fighter squadron in the USAF sent 3 airplanes, pilots and ground crew and one alternate plane, pilot and ground crew to Nellis Air Force base for the competition. In the end, Harry and the two other pilots, James Harvey and Alva Temple, won the competition with Harry having a perfect score!

This apparently shook up the US Air Force. The trophy was promptly misplaced and there was very little PR sent out about the event. The order came to inactivate the group and scatter the pilots and ground crews throughout the Air Force. What seemed like a set back for the Tuskegee pilots and ground crews, turn into a blessing. They were all very good at what they had been doing and shot up in rank very quickly.

Harry Stewart retired from the United States Air Force with the rank of Lt. Col.

On a more personal note, Harry Stewart is a great guy!