As a youth Col. Warner dreamed of one day becoming an airplane pilot. His dream was fulfilled serving over 30 years as a pilot in the Army/Air Force in three Wars: WW11, Korean, and Vietnam, receiving 21 plus medals and awards. Among the medals he received included: Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal, Air Medal, Bronze Star and Unit Command Medal.
In beginning this dream Jim enrolled in 1941 in a two year college equivalency school in California. He was then accepted into an aviation cadet program and sent to Kelly Field in Santana, Texas, along with 15,000 potential pilots, navigators and bombardiers; He was then assigned to Waco, Texas, for basic flight training. At Moses Lake, Washington, he further trained as a co-pilot for flying B-17s.
His entire unit shipped out to England and joined the 8th Air Force. There he and his crew flying in “Little Willie,” a prototype B17G model plane, completed 25 bombing missions over various German targets. On one particular mission over Schweinfort, Germany, bombing a ball bearing factory, he recalled that 60 planes and 600 men were lost.
Jim’s unit was assigned to and operated under a British RAF unit that specialized in a new then technique in jamming radio signals. He called, “On the night before D-Day we started flying, and the British had all our air craft up. We were given geographic points along the English Channel and instructed to fly in circles the entire night using these jamming devices. The next day, January 6, 1944, we learned from a Nazi radio station in France that we had been participating in the invasion.”
Returning to the States he attended and graduated from a communications school at Scott Army Air Force Base in Marana, Arizona. He was then dispatched to two other air force bases, one in Fort Myers, Florida, and another in El Paso, Texas, both in the process of being closed., At El Paso after a thirty day waiting period not knowing what his next assignment, would be, Jim, I was told I had a choice: get out of the service or go to Japan. Japan didn’t sound interesting to him so he took a discharge but stayed in the reserves. Returning to Virginia he qualified for a flight instructors rating.
As a flight instructor near Big Stone, Virginia, Jim related an amusing story. A cow pasture leased from a farmer agreed to graze cows only late in the evening and at night freeing the pasture for day landings. He recalled that generally the first flight in the morning when taking off down the grassy strip you’d hear splat..splat..cow manure flying all over the aircraft. It dried and when we got back we had to wash our plane removing the excessive weight–quite an experience.
Shortly he was called back to active duty as a four engine pilot, and again deployed to Germany At Sembach Air Base his squadron provided communications during the crisis over the Berlin Wall. Jim did little flying during this time but was the chief communications officer for his squadron. “ We would fly over areas in the Mediterranean and provide communication coverage, and we also did rescue work. Our unit was deployed to France to assist with the horrendous floods in Holland and the floods in Bolivia and avalanches in Switzerland. It was in the Netherlands that I witnessed the Queen at a knighting ceremony, of our commander, “He said.”
Jim then returned to the States to West Palm Beach, Fla., and for the next three years helped close the base. He was then transferred to Scott Air Force Base in Bellville, Illinois, after which he attended the USAF Institute of Technology and Signal School’s Airways Communications Systems Division at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Eventually, he attended an extensive course in Training with Industry taking him to various locations: Bell Telephone in New Jersey; Microwave Usage in Business at a Cooperation Headquarters in Pennsylvania, and at a AT&T facility in New York. After completing this course he was reassigned back to Germany—his second. He served there for three years until suffering a heart attack in February 1965. Returning back to Virginia, he was assigned to the Pentagon for four years.
Fully recuperated, he was deployed to Vietnam for a year, serving as a Communications Officer. Returning to Arlington, Virginia, he was then assigned to the National Communications System in Washington, D. C. During this tour he was involved in several flood disasters: Buffalo Creek, In West Va. and in Rapid City, SD.
Col. Jim served thirty one years in the Air Force before retiring; however, he is still active in Air Force Associations and in the MOOA.
Col. Jim and his Commanding Officer, Fran, his wife of 67 years reside in a beautiful home on the bank of peaceful Compass Creek in the Compass Creek Development off Tusquittee Road with their two spoiled cats, Jack and Jill. Fran refers to them as her children. The Warners have two children and no grand children.
Both Jim and Fran are involved in many activities of First United Methodist Church of Hayesville having served on many committees. Jim has served in key positions including: chairman of Finance, Board of Trustees, and Long-Range Planning.
For the past 20 years he has been President of the Compass Creek Homeowners Association.
Fran is currently a member of First Church’s Choir, and a member of various women organizations.
Col. Jim and Fran said, “We love it here and wouldn’t live anyplace else.”