James C. Egan, Jr.
U. S. Army Air Corps
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 01/06/1941 - 06/30/1967
Bomber Pilot

Born in Abilene, Texas, James spent twenty-six years in the U.S. Air Force. He came to Shreveport with his family in 1931 and graduated from high school in 1937. He worked briefly for Dixie Tile and Marble Company, and then for Sears, Roebuck & Company. Meanwhile he joined the Louisiana National Guard, which was mobilized for active duty on January 6, 1941. Sent to Camp Hulen in Palacios, Texas, the unit was re-designated the 204th Coast Artillery. It was ordered to San Diego to guard the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. By then a staff sergeant, James applied for flight training and eventually was flying B-26 bombers at Barksdale Field when he was assigned to the 410th Bombardment Group. By then a second lieutenant, he sailed for England on the Saturnia, a former Italian luxury liner. By April of 1944 James was based at Goss Field near Chelmsfort, England. He soon met his future wife, Mary Alice Hartman, a Red Cross worker, at Ducksford Air Base at Cambridge. His unit transferred operations to France in "July or August" of 1944. James recalls the weather finally clearing in the Battle of the Bulge. He flew three missions on Christmas Day, hitting German tanks, troops, trains, and bridges. James flew sixty-five missions and could have returned home, but wanted to stay near Mary Alice. He flew six more missions before he was assigned to group operations. In that capacity he investigated plane crashes, paid local citizens for damages, took photographs of the wreckage, and wrote reports. He married Mary Alice in the mayor's office in Paris on April 10, 1945, followed by a religious service in a cathedral. After the war, James earned a bachelor's degree and an MBA from George Washington University. He worked in Strategic Air Command (SAC) Headquarters in Omaha and England, served in staff positions at the Pentagon for six years, and held down a joint command in Japan. He was a full colonel when he retired in 1967. James returned to Shreveport and started his own construction company. Asked about his thoughts on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he does not hesitate: "I have never, never wavered in the belief that it was absolutely justified and necessary and nobody should give it a second thought," he states.