Scott, Robert L., Jr. 1908–2006

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Scott, Robert L., Jr. 1908–2006

(Robert Lee Scott, Jr.)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born April 12, 1908, in Macon, GA; died of a stroke, February 27, 2006, in Warner Robins, GA. Military pilot and author. A retired general in the U.S. Air Force, Scott was a heroic World War II pilot and the author of God Is My Co-Pilot (1943). A 1932 West Point graduate, he was a pilot in Panama Canal Zone in the 1930s. He became a flying instructor in 1937, stationed first in Texas and then as commander of the Cal-Aero Academy from 1939 to 1941. When America entered World War II, he eagerly applied for combat duty but was turned down because of his age. An apparent record-keeping error, however, got him an assignment as a B-17 bomber pilot. He had been confused with another Scott, and although he had never flown the Flying Fortress before, he received help from another pilot and was soon on his way. Scott quickly proved his mettle in 1942 when he earned a Silver Star for his bravery in evacuating troops and civilians from Burma when it was overrun by the Japanese. Then, under General Claire Lee Chennault's command of the Flying Tigers, he flew missions over China, shooting down thirteen Japanese fighters in the space of just six months. During one of these missions, his plane was shot and he was seriously wounded. Despite this, he managed to drop his bombs and return to base safely. While he was being treated for five rivets that had lodged in his back, his doctor told him that God had been there for him. Now a hero, he was ordered to return briefly to the United States to inspire factory workers in the war effort; Scott was also asked to write a book about his experiences. Thinking back to the time he was wounded, he came up with the title for God Is My Co-Pilot (1943). Without the time to write it down, however, he dictated his thoughts onto a recorder that used wax cylinders. This was later transcribed into the popular book. In 1945 the book was adapted to film, but Scott would be embarrassed by the way his story had been portrayed by Hollywood. After the war, Scott remained in the Air Force until 1957, serving in a variety of positions and retiring as a brigadier general. His post-military career included serving as president of Scott Productions, Inc., working as an insurance executive, writing, and spending three years on the lecture circuit giving anti-Communist speeches. Awarded such other military honors as the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Scott authored such additional books as Damned to Glory (1944), Samburu, the Elephant, (1957), God Is Still My Co-Pilot (1967), and The Day I Owned the Sky (1988).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

BOOKS

Scott, Robert L., Jr., God Is My Co-Pilot, Scribner (New York, NY), 1943.

Scott, Robert L., Jr., God Is Still My Co-Pilot, Augury Press, 1967.

Scott, Robert L., Jr., The Day I Owned the Sky, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2006, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2006, p. Bll.

New York Times, February 28, 2006, p. A16.

Washington Post, March 1, 2006, p. B6.