James Martin Whitmire, Jr., 92, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, died October 7, 2009, in Columbia, S.C. He was born August 26, 1917 at the Whitmire family’s ancestral home, “White Horse,” in upper Greenville County, S.C., the son of Marguerite Cleveland Goodwin and James Martin Whitmire, Sr., descendants of the earliest settlers of Charleston, Newberry, and upper Greenville counties. He was a 1934 graduate of Greenville High School and a 1938 Business Administration graduate of The Citadel. While at The Citadel, he served as a cadet company officer and was a member of the Summerall Guards, track team, basketball squad, and sports editor of the college’s newspaper, “The Bulldog” and its annual, “The Sphinx.” He did graduate work at Washington and Lee University, University of Colorado, University of South Carolina, and the Air University. From 1938-41, he served as paymaster at Slater Manufacturing Company in Marietta, S.C. and later as a junior executive with W. T. Grant Company, where he was assigned to stores in Chicago, Tampa, Chattanooga, Norfolk, and Orlando. In December 1941, he was ordered to active duty as a reserve second lieutenant in the Army’s Artillery Branch. After accelerated combat training at Fort Eustis and Fort Monroe, he was assigned to the First Coast Artillery Regiment at Fort Sherman in Panama. As an operations officer on the Harbor Entrance Control Post for the canal at Cristobal-Colon and later as a battery commander, he was tasked with guarding the canal against Japanese carrier attack and German submarine-based sabotage raids, which were designed to cripple the vital link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Towards the end of World War II, he became the Caribbean Defense Command’s Director of Personnel Services at Quarry Heights and Albrook Air Base, responsible for the many morale programs for military units stationed throughout Panama and the Galapagos Islands. In January and February 1946, he served as executive manager in Panama for the transplanted Florida spring training camp of the New York Yankees led by Manager, Joe McCarthy. In June 1946, he was assigned to the Pentagon with the General Staff Corps as executive officer for the Army’s Historical Division, charged with preparing the official history of the U.S. Army in World War II. During this time, Whitmire was selected as a Regular Army Air Corps Officer. In 1949, he was reassigned as the Air Force’s representative on the Department of Defense’s Personnel Policy Board Task Force, which was responsible for the implementation of the Career Compensation Act of 1949. During the tour, he also served as the president of the Greater Washington Citadel Club. During the Korean War, he attended the Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, followed by assignment to the Fifth Air Force at Taegu, Korea. Subsequently, he was reassigned to the Far East Air Logistics Command at Tachikawa AFB, Japan. In 1955, Whitmire was reassigned to the Pentagon as Executive Officer of the Air Force’s Personnel Planning Division. Shortly thereafter, he was assigned to the offices of the Air Force Chief and Vice Chief of Staff, where he served for five years as an executive officer to Air Force generals Thomas D. White, Curtis E. LeMay, and Jacob E. Smart. In 1961, he was assigned to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado as Director of Personnel. He was responsible for all officer, airman, civilian and personnel services. His successful negotiation of the acquisition of several hundred acres of privately owned lands allowed the Academy to expand the number of lakes and facilities at the cadets’ mountain recreational area known as Farish Memorial. In 1962, he was elected President of the Academy-wide Falcon Sports Club. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Springs Community Planning and Research Council, as well as the Boards of the Pikes Peak Red Cross and United Fund Campaigns. In 1966, he was assigned to The Citadel as Professor of Aerospace Studies, where his AFROTC Detachment produced more high quality second lieutenants for the Air Force than any other college or university, save the Air Force Academy. Among these graduates was the No. 1 USAF cadet in the nation. For these and other accomplishments, his command was awarded the Secretary of the Air Force’s Outstanding Unit Award. Later on, he was promoted to Commandant of Cadets at The Citadel. He retired in 1970 after more than 30 years of service. His military awards and decorations included: Two Legion of Merit Medals, the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the American Campaign, World War II Victory, National Defense Korean Service and United Nations Service Medals. In addition, he was the recipient of the Air Force’s Overseas Ribbon with silver and bronze clusters, the small arms expert marksmanship ribbon, plus several distinguished service plaques. In 1970, after retirement from the Air Force, he served as a regional campaign manager in the successful gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Governor John C. West. Later, Whitmire served as Gov. West’s senior executive assistant for federal-state programs and as the Governor’s representative on the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Coastal Plains Commission, and the National Governors Association. He was awarded South Carolina’s highest civilian award, the Order of the Palmetto, by Gov. West in 1974. Additionally, he received a distinguished service award in 1975 from the five state governors of the Coastal Plains Commission. In 1985, he received a silver medallion from the 13 state governors of the Appalachian States for his outstanding service to the people of Appalachia. In 1974, he was a charter member of the board of directors of the West Foundation, a philanthropic organization endowed and dedicated to enriching educational opportunities and programs for South Carolinians through the award of college scholarships. He initially served as treasurer and later as the chairman of the board of the West Foundation until his retirement in 1990. He won several top photography awards in Air Force-wide and USAF Academy competitions and was publicly commended by neighborhood Garden Clubs for the profusion of colorful impatiens and geraniums grown annually in his yard and on his deck. His success at organizing annual family reunions and creating elaborate genealogy charts was well-known. He was a lifetime patron of the Augusta National Masters Tournament and an avid Washington Redskins fan. He was a director of the Downtown Charleston Rotary Club and a member of the Rotary Club of Columbia, where he was recognized for more than 25 years of perfect attendance. The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International named him on three occasions a Paul Harris Fellow and later as a registered legal benefactor of its foundation. He was an active member in The Association of Citadel Men, The Citadel Development Foundation, The Brigadier Club, The Gamecock Club, The USAF Academy Athletic Association, The Air Force Association, The Honorary Order of Kentucky Colonels, The Washington D.C. Touchdown Club, The Military Order of the World Wars, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Retired Officers Association and Columbia’s Friday the Thirteenth Club. As a lineal descendent of Baron Bohun of England, he was a certified member of the South Carolina Division of the Somerset Chapter Magna Carta Dames and Barons. He was a long time communicant of Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville, S.C., where he was a faithful participant in Mrs. Mary Beattie’s Brotherhood of St. Andrews and Bishop Kirkman G. Finlay’s Conference Center at Camp Kanuga. In recent years, he has been a member of The Saint Andrews Ashland United Methodist Church. He was preceded in death by his wife of some 50 years, Laura Mizelle, who died August 29, 1996. A memorial service will be held at St. Andrews Ashland United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at 2 p.m. with visitation after the service. Interment services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, December 10, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie St., Charleston, SC 29409-6230 in the name of Colonel James M. Whitmire, Jr. Thompson Funeral Home of West Columbia, S.C. is in charge of arrangements. Family and friends may sign the on-line guest book at: www.thompsonsfuneral.com. Tags: 1938

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