James U. Cross

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James U. Cross

Brigadier General James U. Cross.jpg

General James U. Cross
Birth name James Underwood Cross
Born(1925-04-25)April 25, 1925
Covington County, Alabama
Died July 11, 2015(2015-07-11) (aged 90)
Gatesville, Texas
Service/branchFlag of the United States Air Force.svg  United States Air Force
Years of service 1944-1971
Rank US-O7 insignia.svg   Brigadier General
Commands held Pilot of Air Force One, Military aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Commander of the 75th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas
Other work Author

James Underwood Cross (April 25, 1925 – July 11, 2015) was a United States Air Force brigadier general and author of Around the World with LBJ: My Wild Ride As Air Force One Pilot, White House Aide, and Personal Confidant, [1] with Denise Gamino and Gary Rice. He was a military aide and chief Air Force One pilot under United States president Lyndon B. Johnson. [2]

United States Air Force Air and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

Brigadier general (United States) one-star general officer in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps

In the United States Armed Forces, brigadier general is a one-star general officer with the pay grade of O-7 in the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. The rank of brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed services. The NATO equivalent is OF-6.

Air Force One Air traffic control call sign of airplane carrying the president of the US

Air Force One is the official air traffic control call sign for a United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. In common parlance the term describes those U.S. Air Force aircraft designed, built, and used to transport the president. The presidential aircraft is a prominent symbol of the American presidency and its power.


Personal life

Cross was born in Andalusia, Alabama on April 25, 1925, to James Kenison Cross and Susie Jesse Wells Cross. [3] He attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) for two years before being recalled to active duty in the U.S. Air Force. [4] His wife, Marie Campbell Cross of Austin, Texas died in February 2010 and is buried in Pleasant Home, Alabama, near Andalusia. [5] They had four children together; one child, June Rainwater, died in 2001. Cross died on July 11, 2015 in Gatesville, Texas. Cross will be buried in Alabama next to his wife. [6]

Andalusia, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

Andalusia is a city in and the county seat of Covington County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 9,015.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Professional life

General Cross was trained as a pilot by the U.S. Army and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces [Note 1] in November, 1944. Cross began his military career flying transport aircraft in World War II. After joining the Air Force Reserve in 1946, he was recalled to active duty in 1948 and served at military bases flying transport aircraft in the Philippines, South Carolina, Newfoundland, and Delaware. Cross was sent to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C. in 1958, where he served as pilot for VIP aircraft. [7] In 1961, he was appointed military aide and pilot to Vice President Lyndon Johnson. Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Johnson requested that Cross become qualified to fly the Boeing 707, the 707 being the airframe on which the USAF VC-137 presidential aircraft is based. He served as a co-pilot for one year and then served as Armed Forces Aide and pilot to President Lyndon Johnson from 1965 to 1968. [8]

United States Army Air Forces Aerial warfare branch of the United States army from 1941 to 1947

The United States Army Air Forces, informally known as the Air Force,or United States Army Air Force, was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which in 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Philippines Republic in Southeast Asia

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

Major James Cross and President Lyndon B. Johnson on the front lawn of the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, Texas - LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe Major James Cross and President Lyndon B. Johnson.jpg
Major James Cross and President Lyndon B. Johnson on the front lawn of the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, Texas – LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe

In August 2010, Cross arranged for one of the C-140 Lockheed JetStar planes formerly used to transport President Johnson from the White House to his Texas ranch to be loaned from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, refinished and relocated to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in honor of what would have been Johnson's 102nd birthday. [9] [10]

Lockheed JetStar executive transport jet

The Lockheed JetStar is a business jet produced from the early 1960s to the 1970s. The JetStar was the first dedicated business jet to enter service. It was also one of the largest aircraft in the class for many years, seating ten plus two crew. It is distinguishable from other small jets by its four engines, mounted on the rear of the fuselage, and the "slipper"-style fuel tanks fixed to the wings.

National Museum of the United States Air Force Military and Aviation Museum in southwest Ohio, USA

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 6 miles (9.7 km) northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum draws about 1 million visitors each year, making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park protected area

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park in central Texas about 50 miles (80 km) west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The park protects the birthplace, home, ranch, and final resting place of Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States. During Johnson's administration, the LBJ Ranch was known as the "Texas White House" because the President spent approximately 20% of his time in office there.

On February 23, 1962, Cross flew Vice President Lyndon Johnson, then-Chairman of the National Space Council, to Grand Turk Island, where Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn Jr., USMC had splashed down in Friendship 7 after completing the Project Mercury space expedition. Colonel Glenn joined Cross in the cockpit on the flight back to Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. [11]

The National Space Council is a body within the Executive Office of the President of the United States that was created in 1989 during the administration of George H.W. Bush, disbanded in 1993, and re-established in June 2017 by President Donald Trump. It is a modified version of the earlier National Aeronautics and Space Council (1958–1973).

Grand Turk Island island

Grand Turk Island is an island in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is the largest island in the Turks Islands with 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). Grand Turk contains the territory's capital, Cockburn Town and the JAGS McCartney International Airport. The island is the administrative, historic, cultural and financial center of the territory, and has the second largest population of the islands at approximately 3,720 people.

John Glenn American astronaut and politician

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was a United States Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, businessman, and politician. He was the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times in 1962. Following his retirement from NASA, he served from 1974 to 1999 as a Democratic United States Senator from Ohio.

General Cross' military decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross (United States), Air Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with oak leaf cluster, and the Presidential Service Badge. [4]

Legion of Merit military award of the United States Armed Forces

The Legion of Merit (LOM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. The decoration is issued to members of the seven uniformed services of the United States as well as to military and political figures of foreign governments.

Distinguished Flying Cross (United States) military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918."

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award is one of the unit awards of the United States Air Force. It was established in 1954 and was the first independent Air Force decoration created. The Air Force Longevity Service Award would follow in 1957 with most of the standard Air Force awards established in the early to mid 1960s.


  1. Even though the source at the US Air Force archive states "Army Air Corps", by 1944 when Cross was commissioned, the AAC had been reorganized and renamed the "US Army Air Forces".

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  1. Cross, James U. (2008). Around the World with LBJ. University of Texas Press. ISBN   978-0-292-71768-8.
  2. Johnson, Lyndon (1971). The Vantage Point. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 482.
  3. Cross, James U. (2008). Around the World With LBJ. p. 13. ISBN   978-0-292-71768-8.
  4. 1 2 "Brigadier General James U. Cross". Archived from the original on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  5. "Marie Cross - and had a brother named Aubrey Cross Obituary". Austin American Statesman. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  6. "Remembering General James "Jim" Cross". LBJ Library. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  7. "LBJ's Personal Pilot Visits ROTC Class". Baylor Media Communications. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  8. Jones, Richard. "Hamilton woman, Air Force One pilot rekindle friendship". Journal News. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  9. "For President Johnson's 102nd birthday, aircraft becomes showpiece acquisition at LBJ Ranch". Associated Press. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  10. Cross, James (2008). Around the World With LBJ. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. pp. 37–38.
  11. Frasketi, Joe. "The Grand Turk Island Connection with The Project Mercury/Glenn Flight" . Retrieved 29 July 2013.