Jim Farmer oral history interview



Jim Farmer oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with James "Jim" Farmer and interviewer Jim Farmer, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, October 26, 2017.


Vietnam War veteran James “Jim” Farmer is interviewed about his military service as a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress pilot. He discusses his wartime experiences in Southeast Asia, including his participation in Operations Linebacker I and Linebacker II, and shares other highlights from his U.S. Air Force service. He also discusses his involvement with The Museum of Flight and his work on Project Welcome Home, the Museum’s campaign to construct a memorial park paying tribute to Vietnam War veterans.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background -- College years -- Air Force flight training -- Thoughts on the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress -- Service in Southeast Asia -- Return to the United States and participation in the Strategic Air Command Bombing and Navigation Competition -- Influence of military service -- Post-military career and hobbies -- Involvement with The Museum of Flight -- Choosing between bombers and fighters -- Crewmates -- On being shot down and rescued behind enemy lines -- The Museum’s B-52 -- Closing thoughts




1 recording (1 hr., 13 min., 45 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight




Biographical Text

James “Jim” Farmer is a Vietnam War veteran who served as a pilot aboard the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. He was born and raised in Long Island, New York. His father was a World War II veteran who worked for a plumbing supply company. His mother worked as a nurse’s aide.

In 1969, Farmer graduated from Adelphi University (New York) with a degree in Business Administration. He then joined the U.S. Air Force and attended Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base (Texas). After completing Undergraduate Pilot Training, he was assigned to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress at March Air Force Base (California).

During the Vietnam War, Farmer served four rotations in Southeast Asia. He participated in Operations Linebacker I and Linebacker II and was ultimately promoted to aircraft commander. In 1972, his B-52 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over North Vietnam. He and most of his crew were successfully rescued from behind enemy lines. Over the course of his wartime service, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.

After completing his combat tours, Farmer’s subsequent assignments included serving nuclear alert at March AFB and participating in the Strategic Air Command Bombing and Navigation Competition. He left the service in the mid-1970s and relocated to Seattle, Washington, where he embarked on a career in the finance industry. During his 30-plus years in the field, he worked for Smith Barney, Kidder Peabody, and Wells Fargo.

Farmer has served on the board of several nonprofit organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Club, and The Museum of Flight. He also served on the Project Welcome Committee, spearheading efforts to restore the Museum’s B-52 aircraft and construct a memorial park paying tribute to Vietnam War veterans. As of 2020, he is an active Museum Trustee, serving on the Board’s Executive Committee.

Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.