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James Stewart was the first Hollywood star to enlist in the military when he was inducted into the Army in March 1942. Due to having a commercial pilots license, he was accepted into the Army Air Corps (the US Air Force did not yet exist). As a bomber squadron commander, he flew numerous combat missions over Germany and was promoted to colonel by the war’s end in 1945. For his bravery and the success of his missions, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and from the French Government the Croix de Guerre with Palm.

After taking some time off, he returned to Hollywood to make It’s a Wonderful Life in 1946.