A Bronze Star Recipient’s Service – With Veteran Captain Jack Race: One of the most significant battles in WWII was around Christmastime – the Battle of the Bulge. And the most significant military leader of the British army during the war was Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. Today we hear a first-hand account of Field Marshal Montgomery’s personal pilot who experienced turning points in the war. Plus, have you heard about Patton’s bold prayer? Tune in to hear this insightful interview from 100 year-old veteran, recipient of both the Royal Air Force Cross and the Bronze Star, Captain Jack Race!
Air Date: 12/07/2021
Guest: Captain John Race
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We are taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator, and America’s Constitution coach.
And even though we have a military veteran guest today, it’s still looking at a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. Guys, without that perspective, these guys wouldn’t have been able to do what they did, and we wouldn’t be fighting for the things that we’re fighting for without that biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. But Jack Race going to be with us later in the program. Tim, you had a chance to visit with him?
I did, yeah. And this is something that over the years, we’ve tried to gather as many World War II interviews as possible from those veterans knowing that they’re passing at such a rapid rate. Very soon, there’ll be no World War II veterans left and so we’ve tried to capture a lot of these interviews as we could. So this is an interview actually, I did a little while ago, and you’ll hear him comment on a birthday coming up, that birthday has already come and gone. He’s actually beyond that now. But certainly, anytime we get to here and talk to these veterans and heroes, it’s really impressive to hear their stories. It’s just remarkable to think about what they went through, and just how much life has changed since those moments.
And here we are in late December doing a veteran’s interview, but it’s because late December is close to Christmas and Christmas involved one of the most significant battles in World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. And our guest today Jack Race was part of the Battle of the Bulge. And that battle was the turning point in our victory over Hitler and the Nazis in World War II. Have we lost that battle, it could have a very, very, very different outcome.
And it’s interesting. I mean, this is even more significant to us here in the interview because we’ve been doing research for the American story, Volume II and Volume III coming up, we’ve got Volume I out, which kind of goes from Columbus to the end of slavery. But in working on this with World War II, where we are under Patton, I tell you a Patton has turned out to be much, much, much more remarkable than I remembered, or at least thought it was.
This guy, really, he was a religious guy in the sense that I mean, he used a lot of language, but he was always into going to church and praying and being pious, he was a high church guy. He always real supportive as chaplains. But there’s only a few times in the war where he really got into specific prayer. And he just kind of almost demanded of God. God, here’s the weather I’ve got to have tomorrow. Here’s what I’m doing tomorrow and I need this weather. And I mean, he’s just kind of laid out in specifics.
And Battle of the Bulge was one of those. He had been fighting for weeks before this. The Americans were losing casualties you should not have lost because the Germans, we’d wiped out most of their air force. They were down to about 1/4 of their air force. But their tanks were better than ours. But when the weather was clear, our planes were in the air and just blew their tanks out of the ground and we weren’t losing that many Americans. But when the weather’s not good, their tanks are taking us out and so we’re losing more than we should.
And so Patton was really frustrated over like five weeks of bad weather. And he stopped at church in Luxenberg on the way to Battle of the Bulge and just really said, God, you got to give me four days of good weather. I’ve got to have four days of good weather. And he just really wasn’t a very demanding thing. And the guys with him, chaplains wrote the prayer down and after the battle was over, they went back say, is this what you prayed? This is what we heard? He said, yeah, it’s exactly what I prayed.
So he got those four days. We did win the Battle of the Bulge. Patton was key to that. And then on his way back after winning, he stopped at the church again and apologize to God for being so demanding in his first prayer but thanking God that he answered the prayer. But Patton was a really significant guy. So we thought Battle of the Bulge, Christmas time, those guys fought through the Christmas of 44, so many hundreds of thousands of soldiers. And he was part of that event so we thought that would be a good guy to interview before Christmas.
And sometimes it’s hard for us to envision or even get in our minds what’s happening here. A lot of our listeners have watched Band of Brothers, and so just to bring you to their memory, those episodes where they are just frozen out there. I mean, they are literally freezing in those very shallow foxholes that they dug. So some of those folks that have seen Band of brothers, that’s what you’ll be envisioning when you think about Battle of the Bulge. It’s just incredible. And Tim, really looking forward to this interview. Quick break, we’ll be right back, Tim Barton interviewing World War II veteran, Jack Race.
A Moment from AMERICAN HISTORY
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. The Reverend James Caldwell was a famous minister during the American war for independence. His sermons taught liberty and God’s opposition to tyranny. The British hated him and tried to kill them. So for his own protection, he would actually take loaded pistols with him into the pulpit and lay them beside his Bible as he preached.
In the 1780 Battle of Springfield, the Americans ran out of wadding for their guns, which was like having no ammunition. Pastor Caldwell ran inside a nearby church and returned with an armload of Watts hymnals, the pages of which would provide the much needed wadding. He took this great Bible-based hymnal, raised it in the air, and shouted to the troops, “Now put watts into them, boys.” This pastor’s ingenuity saved the day for the Americans.
For more information on pastor James Caldwell and other colonial patriots, go to wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. This is Tim Barton and I am joined by a very special guest for us to have on the program, Captain Jack Race who is a World War II veteran. And first of all, Captain Race, thank you so much for being on the program. It’s always exciting to talk to someone who was a part of World War II and hear part of that story. So thank you for being on with us today.
You’re most welcome.
So Mr. Race, or Captain and Jack, I know there’s a lot of titles, but I know you were a pilot in World War II, how did you first become a pilot, and how did you enter the military?
Becoming a Pilot
I guess I wanted to be a pilot and that was my aim in life at that time. And in those days living in a country where I’d see airplanes fly over once a while and I say to myself, or whoever would listen to me that, hey, I want to do that. So then I enrolled in the University of Scranton after finishing high school in Carbondale, and it was called St. Thomas College at that time.
And the reason for enrolling there, they had a program called the Civilian Pilot Training program. It was a government-paid process where if you are enrolled in college, and you passed all the requirements for being a pilot, you could take what they call the Civilian Pilot Training program, and work away right your college years to becoming a licensed commercial pilot with a flight instructor training. So that’s what happened to me.
So were you in college during World War II? When did you join the military and when did that career start?
I did graduate from college and I just continued in the CPT program, and then was hired as a flight instructor by the very companies that I took the flying program with, which was a civilian group. As I took the courses and got my licenses, did all the requirements for that and was hired in 19, end of 42, early 43 as a civilian pilot for the US Air Corps in a ferry and transport squadron and as such had ferried airplanes to airports where they were flown out as combat aircraft. However, p51, p38, p47 is a whole lot.
In your time transporting those aircrafts, did you have any flights during the war? Were you in any kind of combat? Or did you transport people? What did you fly? Because I know there were some times you were overseas, and you took some very significant flights. Could you tell us any of your recollections about those?
I’ll Fly Away
Yes. After I’ve gotten my commission as a pilot in the Air Corps, and it was just before we renamed the Air Force, so flying and ferrying aircraft and transport aircraft, I also was given the responsibility of flying high ranking officers of the British Air Force and was transferred to a British group call this 21st Army Corps.
So then, eventually, a very short period of time I was selected to buy as personal pilot for Field Marshal Montgomery of the British Army. He was a ranking officer at that time. My duty was to fly the Chief of Staff of the British Air Force, and all the high ranking people officers to wherever they needed to go during those years of the war, and I was based in England for that period of time right there to the end of the war 1945.
And I had some very interesting fights as you pointed out. During the war, there was an operation called the Battle of the Bulge in Brussels. The Germans made a big effort in 1944 to regain some of the territories they lost to the Brits. This was in the northern zone. The Americans were mostly in the southern part. I had flown a group of British generals to London, and this outbreak of the Germans require that they be go back to the base, the main base was Brussels for the Brits, and so I had to go back there.
But the weather was terrible. I explained it clearly in the book I wrote. I wrote a book called I’ll Fly Away, and I speak of that experience in that book. In the other book with a Chief of Staff with the British Army wrote, he touches on that as well. It was a touchy system and needed to be done because the Germans were really moving rapidly into the land that the Brits had occupied for the American Expeditionary Forces. They were separate, but anyhow, our part is the same effort during the war.
Yes, sir. Well, and I know the weather was very tenuous during some of that. And I know also one of the things that that you have commented on is that there were some tensions even between Field Marshal Montgomery and between Eisenhower. And you were part of some flights to help bring people in that have some conflict resolution to even help the Americans and the British kind of maintain their relationship in the midst of all this conflict?
Well, I had no designated position in that. I just knew there was conflict. I knew Field Marshall Montgomery, very well, fine man. And Eisenhower, of course, was our leader over there as well. But I was a designated pilot for the 21st Army Corp Brits, Montgomery. But I knew there was stress between the two was well known throughout those days, both in the civilian world and the military.
There was this conflict, but it was a minor in my estimation, because both were fine, fine generals. They were both excellent. And why they had this conflict is still a mystery to me, but it was there, and it didn’t resolve anything that had any bad effects on the war effort over there.
And please help me understand is you were one of, I guess, maybe the pilot involved that you were able to fly some people and to have conversations with both of these incredible leaders, as you mentioned, to help alleviate some of the tension, is my understanding, is that correct?
Well, not quite. It was not the point given to me as to why I should be transporting generals from one place rather during that event. It was just the war was on they needed to make contact, and where it did not have anything to do about the difference of opinion between the British and the Americans. That was that personality thing, I think but…
So that wasn’t part of your mission designation?
Transporting the German General
Okay. So, Jack, if you don’t mind, if we can jump forward a little bit. One of the things that I’ve seen is that when it comes to, for example, a surrender of a German leader, you actually were a pilot who flew German General Jodl to surrender at the Reim. Can you give us any details on that story?
Sure. I was based with the British at that time, in northern Germany, Lüneburg, [inaudible 14:13]. And I had a call from the British Chief of Staff that the next day that I was to continued of British high ranking officers and the German generals who are charged and had the ability and skill to sign the surrender document at Reim, France. So I did all that and it was a great day because it was great celebration in Reim when we landed there because the peace treaty as it was called then, it was signed by the British highest ranking people.
I think it’s also worth noting that if we look back on some of your military career, you received honors both from the British Air Force and from the Americans for the work that you did?
What awards or, I guess, kind of stars did you receive for that?
Well, from the British side, I received the Royal Air Force cross and it’s from the high level of the British government. But that was that from the Brits. And then from the Americans, I have the Bronze Star. I got a promotion to senior pilot in the Air Force, and credited for a number of combat missions when I was doing reconnaissance flights for the Americans.
I want to say that carefully. I was with the British, but I was flying American airplanes from Britain to France over French territory, which is in British hands at that time, and then reporting the weather, just doing a weather reconnaissance. They call them combat missions but I never fired a gun those days stage.
Well, we still are grateful for your service. And especially it’s an honor being able to talk to someone not only who’s 100, but who has still a great memory and who can tell stories that really none of us know, we weren’t there. And so it really is an honor to talk to you.
But I know even after World War II that your flying career didn’t end. I see that not only were you a pilot on a lot of commercial sense, but also what interests me is you also flew doctors and nurses into Africa and you did missions work. Would you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, indeed. There was a nonprofit group called Orbis. And after my retirement from the Air Force, Orbis was an organization founded by the head of Baylor University, the nurses were hired, their doctors volunteer their time. And we flew to various countries that were suffering badly from the war. Now, this was after the surrender, so people were hurting all over Europe.
These groups of doctors, by invitation would be asked to come to certain countries and participate in attacking and doing something for blindness, the emphasis was on people that had lost their sight or had serious eye disease. And we would fly these doctors and nurses in, the airplane itself was a small hospital really. And some of the country who went to you had no special places in the hospital for people that had eye disease. So that was our mission. I did that for eight years after leaving Pan Am.
That’s great. Well, so Mr. Race, knowing that, as you mentioned, you’re around 100 years old, you have seen more sunrises and sunsets than most of us have. Would you have any words of wisdom or any encouragement of things you learned along your life, maybe life lessons or principles, things that are still guiding who you are and what you do today that maybe could encourage or even challenge us as listeners?
Help Each Other
Well, yes, I could say one or two things. But the one overriding thing I learned is that in this life, whatever we think of an afterlife or whatever even if we think there’s none, but the most important thing we can do is love others. When I say love others, help others in whatever situation they are in. And, of course, I was connected with high medical position. And it was so needed just to be nice to be friendly with people who aren’t your enemy and didn’t rank very highly in life.
And the doctors and nurses would be there and they’d bring equipment from the United States and other countries too. But that was the idea. It was a mission to help others. So that’s the overall thing I got out we can help others. If we can help each other, that’s we’re right on track.
That’s great. Well, and I think certainly as we look at the world around us, that’s the message a lot more people need is we need to love and serve others, and if we did that, the world certainly would be a better place.
Well said, well said Indeed. Yeah. That’s it. That’s what I came out with anyhow too.
Jack, I sure appreciate it. Captain Race, thank you for spending time with us today for telling part of your story. And I want to say on behalf of myself, my family, or organization and even our listeners, thank you so much for your service for what you did to serve our nation, but also even to serve and love people, just hearing part of your story where you’re flying people around the world.
Grateful for Service
That’s true. And I thank you for saying all of that. It was just a privilege to be able to help others, and whether in the service or not. But in the service where the objective is seemingly to conquer another group of people, if we can do these acts of kindness and compassion, we’re on the right track. And even in war, we can do those things. So that’s where I came from in all of this.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for taking time to be with us today. We really appreciate it.
Thank you very much for asking me.
We’re very grateful. And we pray God’s continued blessing on you as you’ve made it 100 years and to keep going strong.
Yeah, I have three months to go for the 100th birthday, but that…
Oh, you got it. Yeah.
Okay, thank you.
We’ll be right back with David Barton and Rick Green.
Share Your VETERANS Stories
Hey, friends, if you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in a while we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live from folks that were in the Band of Brothers to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived being Indianapolis, there’s so many other great stories you’ve heard on WallBuilders Live. You have friends and family that also serve.
If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please email us at [email protected], [email protected] Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. And very special thanks, World War II veteran, Jack Race for joining us for the interview with Tim.
I tell you guys, I am thoroughly awed at what I just heard, being the personal pilot for Field Marshal Montgomery. Are you kidding me? And by the way, I was shocked an American was the pilot for British Field Marshal.
So I mean, Field Marshal Montgomery is the equivalent of General Patton. He was the top guy in the war for the British. And by the way, you know, as Jack was talking about flying Montgomery in to meet with Eisenhower and what was going on, wasn’t sure what was going on, you know, he’s probably not sure, and I’m not sure either, but I can really speculate.
And the speculation is that there was really bad feelings between the Allied commanders and Field Marshal Montgomery. And he took it personally. And it goes back to Tunisia when we landed and 1943, that’s where Patton first came on the scene as early 43.
And he was a tank commander, and Field Marshal Montgomery was a tank commander. And for the next two years, it was drilling out the Allies versus the axis. It was really Patton versus Montgomery, is what it was.
An Honorable Soldier
Well, I thought what was interesting too in the interview, when he is answering as like a professional soldier, like I don’t really know what the issue was. I just know I was told to fly and that was my job. So that’s what I did. I just flew and even then you’re like, okay, on some level, I wonder if there was more to the story, or really, you’re just like, hey, I didn’t care.
I’m just going to do what they tell me to do, I’m a soldier. But certainly, we do see from other records that there was a lot of drama surrounding those moments and incident. So the fact that he’s the guy flying, that does end up helping resolve this drama is a very big deal
Yeah, because, I mean, there’s records where that when Field Marshal Montgomery thought that Patton was going to beat him somewhere, Field Marshal Montgomery would change all of his tactics, all of his plans, all of his strategies to make sure he could get there before Patton did. And that’s really jeopardizes what you’re doing in the war. And so I don’t know that’s what it’s about. But I would really speculate that’s what it’s about because they had to get that position resolved. But I thought it was significant that Jack being kind of humble said well, you know, there were combat missions, but I didn’t have a gun.
Oh my gosh, we’ve got an uncle, my uncle Tim, your great uncle flew in World War II p51 Mustang, which is a fighter plane, except they took the guns out of it and they put cameras in where the guns were supposed to be. And he flew over German lines all over France, and they were all combat missions. He got shot at plenty of times, he could never shoot back just because you don’t have gun doesn’t mean it’s less dangerous.
But also the fact that he flew Field Marshal Yodel, he was the German Chief Operations throughout the war. He is the guy who really handled the surrender for the Germans.
A Bronze Star Recipient’s Service – With Veteran Captain Jack Race
I mean, Jack has flown some remarkable people in his lifetime and man, that is an intimate part of the story of World War II, never thought I’d hear that today. And I loved his closing remarks about hey, if there’s less and I’ve got is do good for others, you know, really look forward to doing good like the golden rule. And what he did in that humanitarian efforts after the war with former enemies, that’s really remarkable.
Yeah, it reminds me too of one of the things we often talk about in the Bible, in Hebrew, there is no word for retirement. And it would be very easy to look at your life as a career pilot to go hey, I’m done, I retired. And really, we talk about is, no as long as God has you here, God wants you to be productive for Him, for His glory, for His kingdom. And so then for Jack to be able to say okay, well–
What else can I do to make a difference, and then find a way he can use those God-given gifts, talents, and abilities that he developed along the way to make a difference in serving other people and helping those around the world, just really cool story of actually part of the notion what Christmas is all about of giving and serving others which obviously is what God did, what Jesus did coming to this earth, so really cool interview from Captain Jack.
Warrior heroes by land, by air, by sea, you can get it with an mp3 or you can get the CD and it would actually make a great Christmas gift, chance for others to hear these amazing stories. And you can get many more of them, four audio CDs included in the package, or you can get the mp3. Check it out today at wallbuilders.com. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.
My father was a B-24 Liberator pilot during WWII. He was stationed in Rackheath, England and flew 30 plus missions. I wish that as a child, I had asked him more questions about his experience, but he rarely talked about it. We went to several reunions and the wives of dad’s crew came up to dad and thanked him for bringing their husbands back to base alive. I do recall him saying on some of his missions he had to fly so low there were branches of trees stuck in the belly of the plane. Mom and dad went to one reunion at Rackheath and Jimmy Stewart, a fellow pilot, was there leading the band. My dad has since passed but mom and I went to one more reunion a couple of years ago. Sadly, there was only one veteran there, all others were family of pilots. There was a display of books sitting on the tables, so I looked up my dad’s name in the index— there it was. It described how he was coming in for a landing and another pilot above him did not see him and was landing directly on top of him! It described how my dad gave him a severe “tongue lashing” after safely landing. If dad was alive today, he’d be 100 years old. Mom is 97 and living with me and my husband.