James German

NO. 17878  •  

Died 28 November 1981 in Little Rock, Arkansas, aged 54 years.
Interment: Veterans Administration Cemetery, Little Rock, Arkansas.

JIM GERMAIN WAS BORN in Elkhorn, Indiana, to Wendall "Dutch" and Mary German. He lived there until attending Tri State College for one year in Angola, Indiana. He earned his appointment to West Point (at large) from Senator Raymond E. Willis in 1946.

No more telling description of this man and his devotion to Duty, Honor and Country can be found than in the 1950 Howitzer. The notation, "Jim is noted for being as fair as he is hard," paints a picture unchanged from the summer of 1950 until he died a short 31 years later. Even more compelling are the words this talented writer penned for the 2 June 1950 graduation issue of the Pointer. In this piece. printed in full below, one finds the line, "that which captures a man's heart is written in deed." And so it was that this graduate devoted his life to making a difference ... no matter the personal or professional sacrifice.

Commissioned in the Air Force at graduation, he successsfully, achieved his wings in August 1951 and in 25 years of military service flew and fought in Korea, Vietnam and other areas of the world.

Following Korea, test pilot duties at Hayes Aircraft Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama, and two tours at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan led in 1964 to his "favorite" assignment with the 1st Air Commando Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. With this unit Jim added substantially to the final total of 25 difierent types of aircraft he would fly in his career.

Originally formed to train foreign personnel in counterinsurgency air operations. the Air Commandos grew to an imposing force with more than 6,000 personnel, 550 aircraft and 19 squadrons. There are numerous stories illustrating how the Air Commandos and MAJ Jim German made a difference - perhaps none more unusual than a phone call years later from a Cambodian Refugee Center. A Cambodian Air Force officer and his family, having fled the Khmer Rouge, had made it to the United States with one hope -- Jim German. Today, Chhomdoeum Buon and his family live a free life in America because of Jim's commitment to make a difference.

Jim's final active duty assignments were with the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Lisbon, Portugal, and then as a C-130 pilot and maintenance officer in the 314th Military Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. He vowed not to retire until he had pinned his original silver wings on his son's chest, which he proudly did in 1975. Jim continued his love of flying in retirement, piloting with Central Flying Service, Little Rock until his death.

His oldest son, Steve, is Operations Group deputy commander in the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska: his youngest son, Scott, is a security policeman at Offutt Air Force Base. His son-in-law Jim and daughter Sarah, recently retired from the Air Force, reside in Kentucky. His widow, Cathy German, resides in Washington, D.C.

The Spirit of West Point
By Cadet James S. German, '50

Beautiful words and inspiring phrases are written by professional authors, but that which fills a man's heart is written by deed.

For over 100 years, the accomplishments of men who have gone forward from West Point have written on the pages of history the story of the "Spirit of West Point. "

A man who graduates from West Point feels that he must maintain a standard set by those who have gone before.

He has learned to apply himself to a task with the object of doing the job to the best of his ability.

He has learned the meaning of an integrity which he values as high as he does his Iife.

Be not mistaken, however. There is no automatic process by which all men become models of devotion to "Duty, Honor, and Country", merely by spending four years at the Military Academy.

When they leave Cadet life, they embark on their careers armed with those qualities which they have made an effort to develop in themselves.

Some men carry away that which West Point has given them every opportunity to gain by experience and study; others leave still lacking intangible qualities that they failed to grasp.

Those who have armed themselves well with the tools of their profession will have one weapon which only the men of the Corps are privileged to bear. It is a keen edged blade, forged by duty, sheathed in Honor, dedicated to the Service of Country.

It is borne by those who know the meaning of "The Spirit of West Point."

-By his son and a classmate