|16882 HARTINGER, JAMES VINCENT
17 April 1925 - 9 October 2000
Died in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Interred in Riverview Cemetery, Middleport, Ohio.
Aged 75 years.
JAMES VINCENT HARTINGER was one of five children born to Violet and Lawrence Hartinger in Middleport, Ohio. He loved his hometown and never forgot his roots. While Jim enjoyed every aspect of life, he was deeply passionate about three things: his family, the military, and sports. Even as a child, he wanted to be the best at everything he did, and the desire to win spurred him to become an avid competitor.
Jim graduated from high school in 1943 and served as an Infantry NCO in WWII as a 60 mm mortar section leader. During the last months of WWII, while planning a move to France with the 71st Infantry Division, Jim received an appointment to the Academy.
At West Point, Jim enjoyed playing football but lacrosse became his greatest athletic accomplishment. He was an All-American for three years and inducted into the West Point Hall of Fame. Today, the James V Hartinger award is given to the lacrosse team's most valuable player each year.
After graduation, Jim married Susan Allensworth, also from Middleport. The couple had three children: James V. Jr., a retired Air Force colonel and fighter pilot currently flying for Delta Airlines; Kristin, who trains and sells horses in Colorado Springs; and Mike, also in Colorado Springs, is a high school football coach. There are seven grandchildren.
Jim joined the Air Force after graduation and became a career fighter pilot, logging more than 5,000 flying hours. He had the distinction of flying every fighter the Air Force procured during his 35 years on active duty.
Following pilot training, Jim's first assignment was at Fuerstenfeldbruk, Germany. There, he exhibited his skills in the skies over Germany, as well as on the ground as quarterback of the championship Air Force football team. When Jim volunteered for combat duty in Korea, his commander said he would approve the transfer only if Jim first led the 36th "Fuersty" football team to the Air Forces-Europe title. Not favored to win, the team played the first-ever football game in Wembley Stadium in London and won a hard-fought championship. Jim then joined the 474th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, and flew his first combat missions in the F-84 Thunderjet.
Jim served a number of assignments after Korea, including gunnery instructor at Williams AFB, AZ; air operations officer and fighter pilot in the 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Stewart AFB, NY; and duty at the Pentagon, during which he earned a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University.
Following F-4C Phantom combat training, Jim spent a year at Military Assistance Command - Viet Nam, Headquarters, Saigon and flew more than 100 combat missions. Jim's assignments after southeast Asia included: F-111 Test Director at Nellis AFB, NV, Commander of the famed "Flying Tigers," the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell AFB, KS; a tour as a one-star general at the North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, CO; and Commandant of the Air War College in Alabama.
In early 1973, U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) were released from North Viet Nam. A large number of these officers were selected to attend the Air War College while Jim was commandant. They have very fond memories of how "he took us under his wing, entertained and supported us, always remembering everyone's name, really making us forget the worst of the POW experience. He was amazing - a great guy."
In 1975, Jim was commander of Ninth Air Force at Shaw AFB, SC. Later that year, the family suffered a personal tragedy as Susie passed away after a short illness. Jim and Susie shared 25 years together.
Jim was promoted to lieutenant general and then served as Twelfth Air Force Commander at Bergstrom AFB in Austin, TX. This was a very special time because his son Mike played football at the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1978, Jim met and fell in love with Mickey Christian, a nurse from West Virginia. They married in October 1979 and, two months later, when Jim was named Commander-in-Chief of NORAD, they moved to Colorado Springs. Two very significant events occurred following this transfer: the CINC position was upgraded to a four-star billet in 1982 and the Air Force accepted Jim's recommendation to establish a new operational command for space that same year. Jim was promoted to four-star general and became the "founding-father" of the Air Force Space Command.
After his retirement in 1984, GEN Hartinger remained active as an advisor, board member, and consultant to several defense contractors and nonprofit organizations. While his military awards and decorations were many, other equally proud honors followed: the Order of The Sword presented by his NCOs; the Hartinger Medal established by the National Defense Industrial Association, awarded annually for extraordinary achievement in space; and the renaming of Main Street in his hometown as "GEN Hartinger Parkway."
Jim played golf, remained an avid card player, and enjoyed the time spent with Mickey and their two Scottie dogs, Chivas and Regal. Unfortunately, GEN Hartinger contracted Alzheimer's disease, which caused his death and the loss of a truly great American. In 2000, just before Jim's passing, the Air Force Space Command Headquarters building in Colorado was appropriately renamed the "Hartinger Building."