Fairchild is celebrating the Air Force 73rd birthday with a Drive-in movie on September 25h (due to unhealthy smoke). Please join us as we screen the World War II classic, Twelve O'clock High starring Gregory Peck.
Here's the story in a nutshell: In 1942, an American Air Force unit stationed in England is plagued with morale problems until no-nonsense Brigadier General Frank Savage assumes command. His tough leadership is initially resented by not only his pilots but his second-in-command, a West Point graduate and son of a general. But, with the help of a hotshot flying ace (based on our Fairchild's own hero, John Red Morgan) and a sympathetic administrator, the unit pulls together into a gung-ho fighting crew.
Here's a link to the movie at IMDB:
I clipped this brief history of each of the characters from Wikipedia because I thought you might be interested to know that many of the characters in the movie were based on real WWII heroes like 2nd LT Jesse Bishop whose based on the real life hero John 'Red' Morgan for whom the Red Morgan Center is named for here at Fairchild.
Brigadier General Frank Savage was created as a composite of several group commanders but the primary inspiration was Colonel Frank A. Armstrong, who commanded the 306th Bomb Group on which the 918th was modeled. The name 'Savage' was inspired by Armstrong's Cherokee heritage.[who?] While his work with the 306th, which lasted only six weeks, consisted primarily of rebuilding the chain of command within the group, Armstrong had earlier performed a similar task with the 97th Bomb Group. Many of the training and disciplinary scenes in Twelve O'Clock High derive from that experience.
Towards the end of the film, the near-catatonic battle fatigue that General Savage suffered and the harrowing missions that led up to it were inspired by the experiences of Brigadier General Newton Longfellow. However, the symptoms of the breakdown were not based on any real-life event but were intended to portray the effects of intense stress experienced by many airmen.
Colonel Keith Davenport was based on the first commander of the 306th Bomb Group, Colonel Charles B. Overacker, nicknamed 'Chip'. Of all the personalities portrayed in Twelve O'Clock High, that of Colonel Davenport most closely parallels his true-life counterpart. The early scene in which Davenport confronts Savage about a mission order was a close recreation of an actual event, as was his relief.
Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Harvey Stovall, who is a former World War I U.S. Army Air Service pilot who has returned to active duty as a non-flying adjutant, was modeled on William Howard Stovall, a World War I flying ace who returned to active duty as a Major in the U.S. Army Air Forces the week following Pearl Harbor and served as the non-flying Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel for the 8th Air Force in England for his World War I comrades, Brigadier General Frank O'Driscoll Hunter and General Carl Spaatz.
2nd Lieutenant Jesse Bishop, who belly lands in the B-17 next to the runway at the beginning of the film and was nominated for the Medal of Honor, had his true life counterpart in Second Lieutenant John C. Morgan. The description of Bishop's fight to control the bomber after his pilot was hit in the head by fragments of a 20 mm cannon shell is taken almost verbatim from Morgan's Medal of Honor citation. Details may be found in The 12 O'Clock High Logbook. Robert Patten had been a USAAF Navigator in World War II, the only member of the cast with aircrew experience.
Sergeant McIllhenny was drawn from a member of the 306th Bomb Group, Sgt Donald Bevan, a qualified gunner who was assigned ground jobs including part-time driver for the commander of his squadron. Bevan had received publicity as a 'stowaway gunner' (similar to McIllhenny in the film), even though in reality he had been invited to fly missions. Like McIllhenny, he proved to be a 'born gunner'.
The 'tough guy' character Major Joe Cobb was inspired by Colonel Paul Tibbets who had flown B-17s with Colonel Armstrong.[Note 1] Tibbetts was initially approved as the film's technical advisor in February 1949 but was replaced shortly after by Colonel John H. deRussy, a former operations officer for the 305th Bomb Group.