Writer Fredric Alan Maxwell is pulling together a biography of Michigan legend Tom Harmon titled, ‘The Late Great 98’. Michigan Today released a excerpt of the book that will be released chapter by chapter over time in a unique format, and will eventually result in a hard copy book. Details are found on tomharmonbio.com:
The Late Great 98 is the Tom Harmon Biography-in-progress that is being published on an advanced subscription basis. People who purchase reduced-rate advance copies will be e-mailed Harmon stories and chapters as they are written, which they can review and comment on, thus becoming part of the editorial process. Hard cover books containing the final draft will be printed and delivered by mail to subscribers before they are sold in bookstores.
Maxwell’s book intro discusses some of the controversy around Harmon’s military service in World War II. There were accusations out there discrediting Harmon’s military service, summarized below:
…very persistent rumor is afloat to the effect that Tom Harmon, when he crashed in South America was yellow, that he, contrary to all traditions and rules of the Air Service (sic), bailed out first whereas it is the duty of the pilot to be the last to jump. Rumor has it that that was the reason that Tom was the only one to survive that crash. It is also said that he is thoroughly discredited throughout the Air Force because of that alleged fact and that he never would be able to get any cooperation from members of the service.’
Maxwell’s research discredits these rumors, showing that Harmon’s record of service was indeed clean and furthermore, commendable (he received a Silver Star). On the official record eventually Secretary of War Henry Stimson responded to a request from a Michigan senator and concluded in a 52 page report: “the War Department denounces these stories and deplores the circulation of such unfounded rumors.”
These stories and rumors persist, I’ve read them on message boards and the like. I’m glad to see Maxwell looked into it and didn’t just go with a feel good piece on Harmon.
The book is truly still in the works, in fact Maxwell is still compiling his research. The author requests that anyone with Harmon anecdotes, photographs, letters or other Harmon memorabilia or memories contact him at TomHarmonBio.com.
Here’s an anecdote, does anyone know how Harmon ended up with #98? I do, how about you Fred?