James U. Cross

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James U. Cross
upper body photograph of man in military uniform
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/branch  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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]


  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".


  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. ^ a b "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.

External links

  • Cross, James. "James U. Cross Recollections". LBJ Library. Archived from the original (videotape) on 19 December 2001. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
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