McDowell met Glenn Miller during WWII
A local World War Two veteran shared how a chance encounter 69 years ago nearly changed his life.
Sunday's special ceremony by the Indy Honor Flight Program, which flies World War Two vets to Washington to see the memorial they made possible.
Jimmy McDowell is very comfortable in front of a crowd. Especially this crowd. Any one of these veterans at the WWII Memorial Sunday could have heard him sing 70 years ago. That is where Glenn Miller first saw him - August 14th, 1944.
He showed us some of the pictures from that day.
"There's Glenn Miller and the singers," Jimmy recalls, pointing to legendary big band leader. "Notice how the guys sat on the planes and we were in there someplace."
McDowell says it was a day he would never forget. But it really only set the stage for what was to come, when Miller would be in the crowd listening to McDowell's band playing at the officers club later that night.
"Yes, and the latrine is right behind us when the picture was taken," Jimmy points out. "So that's my favorite picture of all the war. Standing there talking to Major Glenn Miller."
Miller asked McDowell what he was going to do after the war. McDowell said he wanted to be a singer.
"So he said after the war I am going to go back to California and put our big band back together and add strings to it and I got a lot of ideas, so I said 'okay,'" recounts McDowell. "He said if you get to California, look me up and I will help you out. Isn't that something? Then he disappeared in December of 1944."
McDowell would come back to Indiana and start his eventual Hall of Fame Broadcasting career that included BandStand 13 on Channel 13. And now, he is preparing to go back to Washington this September to see the WWII Memorial for the first time, thanks to the Indy Honor Flight.
"To my knowledge all the people in the 231st Hospital area are dead except me. So I have a lot of thoughts I will take with me," he says.
But he will go without regret. At age 91 he is comfortable with his life, "There is nobody to call anymore. That's life. It's a shame, but that's life."
And he's still comfortable on a stage.
If you don't recognize the name Jimmy McDowel,l you may remember him as Jimmy Mac.
His Honor Flight is scheduled for September 7th.