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Jack D. Hunter

Autor, Maler, Freund

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Our good friend Jack D. Hunter passed away on 13 April 2009, at the age of eighty-seven (he would have been eighty-eight in June). I miss him.  He remains an extremely important influence on my life, as well as for many WWI collectors and readers.

Autor (Author)

Jack D Hunter - Imperial German Military Antiques Sale

Jack D. Hunter was the author of what most enthusiasts of the Air War consider the definitive novel about World War I aviation, The Blue Max. This book was made into a movie of the same name in the mid 1960’s starring George Peppard, Ursula Andress and James Mason. Jack had been fascinated by WW1 airplanes since he first saw the silent film Wings as a young boy. He grew up reading about early aviation, building model airplanes, and talking to men who actually flew during the Great War. Eventually, he combined his enthusiasm for early aviation with personal WW II experiences to create his first novel.

He was born in Hamilton, Ohio on June 4, 1921, and went to various schools in New York and Pennsylvania, getting his BA in Journalism from Penn State University in 1943. His aptitude with languages led him into U.S. Counter-Intelligence during WW II. He went behind the lines to infiltrate the Nazi Party’s attempts to set up a clandestine organization to keep itself alive after the end of the war. His success in this endeavor gave him the basis for several of his spy novels, particularly The Expendable Spy. His close association with Nazi officials during this time also gave him insights into what fueled Nazism’s rise to power and its birth among the upheavals in German society following World War One. His striving to understand how Nazism seduced so many Germans led him to the creation of his most fascinating character, Bruno Stachel, the WW I German ace and anti-hero of The Blue Max. Jack passed away on 13 April 2009 at his home in St. Augustine, FL.

The Blue Max is actually the first of a trilogy about Stachel, whose character is much darker in the books than in the movie. Unlike the movie, Stachel is very much alive by the end of The Blue Max. His story continues in The Blood Order, which details Stachel’s involvement with the Nazi party during the days of the Munich Putsch through the Nazi rise to power in the 1930’s, and finishes in The Tin Cravat, which details the early times of World War II. {A militaria note: Each of the books is named for a military decoration. A Blue Max is WW I Germany’s highest award, the Pour le Mérite. The Blood Order was given by Hitler to Nazis who had participated in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923; and “The Tin Cravat” was the nickname of the highest WW II German honor, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.}

He was the author of 17 novels, with a close to 60-year career in print and broadcast journalism, military and Congressional service, corporate public relations, book editing and aviation art. Two of the novels, The Blue Max and One of Us Works for Them, were sold to the movies. A third, The Expendable Spy, won the Edgar Allan Poe Special Award of the Mystery Writers of America. Both The Flying Cross and Slingshot are under option by film producers; and eight of the titles were recorded and released unabridged by Blackstone Audio Books in 1995-97.

Jack was a newspaper reporter, rewrite-man, editor, columnist and radio newscaster for eight years. Next came 22 years as an advertising and public relations executive with the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware (like his father and younger brother). He also served as special counsel and chief speech writer for members of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C. for six years. He was senior editor of Serendipity Press, book publishers, for two years. He also served as a writing coach and editorial consultant for the Florida Times Union and St. Augustine Record for 10 years.

He married Shirley Thompson Hunter (Tommy, as she was known to her friends, passed away in 2006) in 1944 and they had four children: twin daughters Lee and Lyn, daughter Jill, and son Jack D., Jr., and three granddaughters. Jack made his home in St. Augustine, Florida.

Freund (friend)

Jack D Hunter - Imperial German Military Antiques Sale

Jack D. Hunter was the author of what most enthusiasts of the Air War consider the definitive novel about World War I aviation, The Blue Max. This book was made into a movie of the same name in the mid 1960’s starring George Peppard, Ursula Andress and James Mason. Jack had been fascinated by WW1 airplanes since he first saw the silent film Wings as a young boy. He grew up reading about early aviation, building model airplanes, and talking to men who actually flew during the Great War. Eventually, he combined his enthusiasm for early aviation with personal WW II experiences to create his first novel.

He was born in Hamilton, Ohio on June 4, 1921, and went to various schools in New York and Pennsylvania, getting his BA in Journalism from Penn State University in 1943. His aptitude with languages led him into U.S. Counter-Intelligence during WW II. He went behind the lines to infiltrate the Nazi Party’s attempts to set up a clandestine organization to keep itself alive after the end of the war. His success in this endeavor gave him the basis for several of his spy novels, particularly The Expendable Spy. His close association with Nazi officials during this time also gave him insights into what fueled Nazism’s rise to power and its birth among the upheavals in German society following World War One. His striving to understand how Nazism seduced so many Germans led him to the creation of his most fascinating character, Bruno Stachel, the WW I German ace and anti-hero of The Blue Max. Jack passed away on 13 April 2009 at his home in St. Augustine, FL.

The Blue Max is actually the first of a trilogy about Stachel, whose character is much darker in the books than in the movie. Unlike the movie, Stachel is very much alive by the end of The Blue Max. His story continues in The Blood Order, which details Stachel’s involvement with the Nazi party during the days of the Munich Putsch through the Nazi rise to power in the 1930’s, and finishes in The Tin Cravat, which details the early times of World War II. {A militaria note: Each of the books is named for a military decoration. A Blue Max is WW I Germany’s highest award, the Pour le Mérite. The Blood Order was given by Hitler to Nazis who had participated in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923; and “The Tin Cravat” was the nickname of the highest WW II German honor, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.}

He was the author of 17 novels, with a close to 60-year career in print and broadcast journalism, military and Congressional service, corporate public relations, book editing and aviation art. Two of the novels, The Blue Max and One of Us Works for Them, were sold to the movies. A third, The Expendable Spy, won the Edgar Allan Poe Special Award of the Mystery Writers of America. Both The Flying Cross and Slingshot are under option by film producers; and eight of the titles were recorded and released unabridged by Blackstone Audio Books in 1995-97.

Jack was a newspaper reporter, rewrite-man, editor, columnist and radio newscaster for eight years. Next came 22 years as an advertising and public relations executive with the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware (like his father and younger brother). He also served as special counsel and chief speech writer for members of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C. for six years. He was senior editor of Serendipity Press, book publishers, for two years. He also served as a writing coach and editorial consultant for the Florida Times Union and St. Augustine Record for 10 years.

He married Shirley Thompson Hunter (Tommy, as she was known to her friends, passed away in 2006) in 1944 and they had four children: twin daughters Lee and Lyn, daughter Jill, and son Jack D., Jr., and three granddaughters. Jack made his home in St. Augustine, Florida.

Maler (painter)

In addition to his writing career, Jack was a professional artist specializing in mixed media paintings of historic moments in early aviation. His work is displayed at the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, in the U. S. Air Force Museum at Eglin AF Base, Florida, and in many other galleries and private collections in the U. S. and abroad. At Der Rittmeister Militaria we are proud to have several of Jack’s original paintings displayed in our home. We acquired our first in the 1990’s.

View Jack’s paintings here