Historic Markers Across Tennessee

James Thomas Fitz-Gerald, Jr.

Marker ID: THC 2B 31
Location: 300 Elm Ave, South Pittsburg, TN
County: Marion
Coordinates: N 35° 0.751    W 085° 42.367
  35.01251666    -85.70611666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


James Thomas Fitz-Gerald, Jr.
Captain, USAF
— 1920-1948 —

(side 1)
Born July 13, 1920 in South Pittsburg, James “Jim” Thomas Fitz-Gerald, Jr. was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1940. Interested in aviation since childhood, he graduated in the first class of “Wings of West Point”. Assigned in April 1944 to the Eighth Air Force in England, he was taken prisoner in August after his plane was shot down over Germany during his twenty-eighth combat mission. He was a POW in Stalag Luft III Prison until liberated in April 1945.

(side 2)
After World War II, Fitz-Gerlad, a U.S. Air Force Captain and decorated veteran, was assigned jet-propelled aircraft development at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Transferred to California's Muroc Air Base, Fitz-Gerald piloted Bell's "XS-1" rocket plane to Mach 1.1 in his first attempt on February 24, 1948, to become the second man to break the sound barrier. Fitz-Gerald died on September 20, 1948, from injuries sustained in a September 9 plane crash in Van Nuys, California. He is buried at West Point.

Erected 2006 by Tennessee Historical Commission