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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | December 15, 2010

The Humpday History Highlight rarely gets a lot of comments, but I still post it every week. Why? Because once in a while I read a story I have never heard before. This is one of those occasions.

My in-laws are big fans of Glenn Miller. They always have been. And while I don’t mind his work, I wouldn’t call myself a true fan. After this, I will be.

December 15, 1944 – Glenn Miller Disappears Over English Channel

General James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) offered the following high praise to one of his staff officers in 1944: “Next to a letter from home, Captain Miller, your organization is the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations.” The Captain Miller in question was the trombonist and bandleader Glenn Miller, the biggest star on the American pop-music scene in the years immediately preceding World War II and a man who set aside his brilliant career right at its peak in 1942 to serve his country as leader of the USAAF dance band. It was in that capacity that Captain Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine aircraft at an airfield outside of London on December 15, 1944—an aircraft that would go missing over the English Channel en route to France for a congratulatory performance for American troops that had recently helped to liberate Paris.

The wreckage of Miller’s plane was never found. His official military status remains Missing in Action.

Wow. My son Kyle joined the school band this year. He chose to play the trombone. I think I’ll introduce him to Glenn Miller’s work this week. He seems like the sort of man I want my son to emulate.

Topics: HHH | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. fozzy Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    A huge star giving up the money, and ultimately his life, just to serve his country and give a little entertainment to the fighting men. Thank you Glenn Miller.

    I played trombone in highschool, so a word of advise to your son: If the guy you hate sits right in front of you in the trumpet section, repeatedly hitting the back of his head with the trombone slide leads to nothing but trouble. But it is so worth it. :D

  2. Robert B. Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    The Pat Tillman of the Greatest Generation. Rare men, indeed. Godspeed gentlemen.

  3. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Fozzy – I’ll let him know!

    Robert B. – I have so much more respect for him now. Definite hero.

  4. andycanuck Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    There’s a good Jimmy Stewart biopic about him too that you might like to look for. It might even be on YouTube.

  5. Rick Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I have been a life long fan of Major Alton Glenn Miller.
    I really love swing music.

  6. twoeggsup Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart, June Alyson and Harry Morgan was recently on Comcast on-demand free movies. It pops up every now and again and it’s worth seeing. Check it out:

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Andy – I’ll look for it. Thanks.

    Rick – I’m sure I will be, too.

    Twoeggsup – Thanks. I’m on it.

  8. Bob G. Says:
    December 16th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I grew up listening to Miller’s music – always loved it…my Dad had a lot of vinyl on the console stereo…he even got to MEET him when he played stateside while Dad was in the USAAF.
    And I STILL have the autographed picture he got framed and hanging in our bedroom.
    (that was one of Dad’s highpoints in his life, too)

    They used to have the Glenn Miller band play every year at Pennypack Park..that was fantastic to go see.
    If THAT music didn’t get yer feet tappin’…you’d best check yer pulse!

    The Glenn Miller Story is a marvelous movie, too.

    Excellent post.
    Roll safe.

  9. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 16th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Bob G. – I’ve been listening to him on and off all day.

  10. piperfromtn Says:
    December 16th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    This was my dad’s kind of music, also. We restored an old slot machines together and listened to lots of Glenn Miller while doing it.

  11. Cowboy Blob Says:
    December 17th, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I think it was a Paul Harvey broadcast that told the “rest of the story.” Miller’s plane was apparently underneath a formation of bombers headed for the Continent when the bombers jettisoned their payloads and accidentally destroyed Miller’s plane. Looks like it’s still unofficial, but it’s still a darned shame.

  12. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 17th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Piper – Sounds like a lot of good memories.

    Cowboy – Oh Jesus, that’s terrible.