Maj. James Jabara
USAF first Jet Ace
by Emad Tabsh
Lebanon National Day 2003
Maj.Jabara with relatives and fans.
To the majority of us modelers, Col.James Jabara, the first jet ace in history, is a USAF pilot. True enough as Col. J. Jabara was born in the US and lived and worked for his native country. However, not many of us know that he is born to a father who immigrated to the US seeking a better life and future.
In January 1952, Major Jabara visited Lebanon as part of a tour organized by the US military leadership. During this visit, he received a hero's reception all over Lebanon, specially at his grandfathers birth place in Marjeyoun, south Lebanon. Local newspapers wrote about his combat achievements in the Korean war. He was accompanied by his father, along with US military officials.
Regrettably, Jabara's visit was the first and the last one to Lebanon.
After the visit, locals kept their interest in Maj.Jabara's war news until it faded with time. During my research, I visited Marjeyoun and was able to locate few photos of this visit which I included here for all to see. These are never before seen photos.
Special thanks go to Mrs.. Rene Jabara and to Mr.. Adnan and Mrs.. Catherine Jabara.
NB: If any of the readers are close relatives to Col. Jabara, please write as I am planning in the future, to publish a book about our hero.
Below is Maj. Jabara's tour timetable, as translated from local newspapers:
Major James Jabara in his fatherland
Yesterday morning, Khaldeh’s airport was jammed with large crowds on the way to receive Major James Jabara; the hero of the Korean War and the first jet ace in history.
Stepping out of the plane and seeing the crowds welcoming him, he addressed them in English: "You engulfed me with this great welcome and I am very glad to be among you in my family’s native land."
Dr. Alife Jabara, the chief of protocol assistant in the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, represented the government in receiving the hero. Among the front welcomers were Sir Harold Minor, the USA’s plenipotentiary minister, Colonel George Mileet, the US military attaché and Colonel William Covington, the US aerial attaché. They also accompanied him to the presidential headquarters where he signed down his name on the protocol note pad.
At the reception, His Excellency the Archbishop Abi Fanyos and Archimandrite Gabriel Salibi who said a Mass represented Beirut municipal.
Then he visited the Foreign and Defense Ministers and the armed forces commander, in the company of USA’s plenipotentiary minister and the army and aerial attachés.
In addition, Major Jabara visited Prime Minister Yafi at his Diwan in the company of Colonel William Covington and the military attaché in the American delegation. The visit to the Prime Minister’s office lasted for fifteen minutes.
When he exited the reporters asked Jabara how he felt.
“I am very glad with the visit, which is unfortunately, very short.”
He thanked all those who showed deep emotion towards him.
Our reporter said that Major Jabara is twenty-eight years old; petite; irritable, not talkative. When asked why, he replied:
“That goes back to his tiring work, but he loves it and does not favor any other thing.”
The following is Major Jabara’s schedule of his visit in the Lebanon
- Thursday, January 10th : A party in his honor in the American delegation held by the American minister from six thirty to eight thirty in the evening.
- Friday, January 11th : A trip to Zahlé and Ba’alback, then comes back by night to attend a party held in his honor by the American aerial attaché and Colonel William Covington in the Lebanese Officer’s Club.
- Saturday, January 12th: Lunch at Bristol hotel held by the Lebanese Prime Minister Abdallah Al Yafi ,who’s being the Foreign Minister as well.
From six thirty to eight thirty he attends a party thrown in his honor by the lady, Najib Khairallah’s wife in her residence.
At ten – the night of the same day – he joins a dancing charitable social gathering in the Lebanese Syrian Club for the Orthodox orphanage.
- Sunday, January 13th : Tour to the Arz, (Cedars) and having lunch held by Mr. Michel Touma – the tourists and summering proxy.
- Monday, January 14th : Party thrown in his honor by Dr. Ibrahim Jabara and Mr. Antoine Jabara at Dr. Jabara’s house.
- Tuesday January 15th : Trip to Marjiyoun.
- Saturday January 15th : The delegation travels to Damascus in Colonel Covington’s plane.
While Lebanon honors Major Jabara, the Lebanese Communists demonstrated against him Thursday night in Beirut, the American legation threw a dinner in honor of Major James Jabara the aerial jet hero. During lunch, the communists made a demonstration in front of the legation building, yelling against Major Jabara who shot down a large number of Chinese Communist and Northern Korean military planes.
As a result, the commentary team headed by the proxy Tanios Tawil tried to scatter the demonstrators and they arrested two of them : Sa’ad Hasan Dallal and Naji Abdel Kader Harb. By the way Sa’ad Hasan Dallal is Toufic Dalla’s relatives the latter was arrested as a result of a communist demonstration which took place last week in front of the British delegation.
The news reporter mentioned that Major Jabara visited Mr. Gabriel Aswad – the general interior manager by proxy in his office at the administration house at 11:00 AM. On Thursday (the day before yesterday). He was accompanied by the head of the alliances. He was welcomed in the most suitable, hospitable way.
Today, Saturday, Major Jabara attends the honoring held by the Prime minister in the military club and attended also by the heads of the alliance and the Senior Army Officers.
Major Jabara visits the Metropolitan
The Ministry Grants the Aerial Hero the Cedar’s Medal.
Major James Jabara visited His Excellency the Metropolitan Ilia Salibi in the archbishopric accompanied by the aerial attaché in the American legation and some noble men of the community. His Excellency welcomed him with an Archbishop Abi Fanyos and some of the notable figures of the sect, among them were “ Mr. Habibe Abi Shahla, Boulos Fayyad, Fouad Al Khoury, the Mayor of the Capital and many others.
His Excellency welcomed Major Jabara in a work praising the brilliant deeds and the aerial success he achieve. His Excellency expressed the Lebanese delight in Major Jabara’s excellence, which is considered a proof of the Lebanese superiority in the various fields once given the chance. In the end, His Excellency wished Major Jabara peace and success.
The Major Jabara’s thanked him for the hospitality.
Champagne was served, thus the audience drank Major Jabara’s toast being the Lebanese aerial pride.
A Medal for the Major
Yesterday at noon, the Prime Minister – being the Foreign Minister, threw a lunch in the Military Club, in honor of Major James Jabara. The National Defense Minister, the legated American Minister, seniors of the American legation, the general manager of the Foreign Ministry and many others.
During the feast Prime Minister Yafi awarded Jabara the national (Cedar - Arz) medal of the Commander degree. For the occasion, he said a word “congratulating the Major for the his distinct acts that qualified him to the rank, which made Lebanon proud of him.”
Major Jabara answered back with a speech thanking the President for this honor, he also thanked the Prime Minister for his hospitality.
Major Jabara in Zahlé And Riak
Major James Jabara, accompanied by the delegate of the Lebanese Syrian American Union, visited Zahle and Riak.
The city council welcomed him. The members accompanied him to the American Zahlian Library where welcoming speeches were presented. Major Jabara talked with the member of the Lebanese Syrian American Union, they expressed their great thanks to what they’re receiving of honoring and hospitality in the Lebanese areas. They also expressed their relief for building the American Zahlian Library as a means to strengthen the amicable and cultural relations between Lebanon and the United States.
The visitors then moved to the palace where they were welcomed by the mayor who praised the brotherly relations between the Lebanese and American people. And in this occasion, Mr. Mansour Zinaty expressed the interest of the Lebanese Syrian American Union Clubs in the Zahlian American Library and in the continuation of the relations between the United States and Lebanon.
The Mayor answered with a similar word welcoming all the efforts offered to strengthen these relations.
The Major Jabara continued his way to Riak where he was received by Major Khoury and the two parties drank the toast of Lebanese American friendship. The Major checked the aerial base in Riak and saw some of the training planes, bomb shooters and others. He expressed his big hope to consolidate the Lebanese aerial weapon and strengthen continuously.
The Major and his companions had lunch on Major Khoury’s table, and after exchanging the speeches, he went back to Beirut thanking the great hospitality which he received in “ Beka’a’s Bride “ Riak.
When the American Minister Says A speech away from the Capital and Formalities He thought that the strength of the
Relations between Americans and Lebanon decides to a great extent the feeling between the two people
Major James Jabara visited Merjayoun – his father’s birthplace – were all the residents welcomed him.
The procession went to the Palace of the Ministry where Major Jabara was welcomed by the Mayor of the South, Prince Abdul Aziz Shahab in a speech containing what follows: “Lebanon is a nursery, if the branches of this nursery stayed in their land, they become weak, yet if they were moved to different fertile countries like the United State, they grow and blossom directly”.
The American Minister’s Word
The delegated American Minister followed and said the following : “ Your active heartily welcome, your lively hospitality and great welcome in which you receive Major Jabber in his father’s birthplace here and in the other Lebanese areas, proves his visit to Lebanon to be a happy occasion. This happiness is no less for the Americans because it presents the amicable political relations between Lebanon and America.
For more than a century, Americans were interested in sharing the Middle and Far East Countries with the progress projects especially those of cultural and medical aid, then in the past twenty years in business projects.
This kind of sharing allowed a strong base to the common interest and friendship between Lebanon and the Middle and Tar East on one side and America and Americans on the other.”
The Lebanese Emigrant Track
These relations were strengthened and fastened a lot by the emigration of a large number of Lebanese to the United States. America who builds up her strength from different nationalities. Took those Lebanese and mixed them with the American civilization. Those Lebanese did not only succeed in standing still among the large groups of different nationalities in the United States. They surpassed many and appeared in the front of various fields. What in more important is that they reach this excellence in a way that reflects what their homeland and cities owe them.
They showed a high degree of social responsibility and they were among the most notable factors that follow the law and discipline in the American life. “That’s why I tell you that you have a lot of reasons that had you to be proud of your citizen’s success in international business fields mainly the spiritual field.
You have the right to be proud of Major James Jabara for distinguishing himself in a striking way in a field, which requires specialties in moral, courage, and personal sacrifice.
“ In my turn, I salute Major Jabara as well as his father and the representative of the Lebanese Syrian American Club Union in appreciation of the great role they represented in the field of international friendship and understanding. I also salute you, the Lebanese people, for giving us your citizens either temporary or constantly, and I congratulate America with the treasure it got.
The Relations among the People
I think that the strength of the relation between the two countries decides to a great extent the feeling between the two people. I think that the large number of Lebanese in the United States is a source that allows great encouragement during these circumstances in which we are facing important duties in this country.
I touch on this encouragement when I visit Lebanese villages. I know it’s going to have a great effect in the constant brotherly relations between our two countries, and in getting rid of the political aspects and other difficulties that block our way.
“ I ask for your support, and I promise to give my personal support to nourish this blossom of friendship between Lebanon and America to grow and bloom to the utility and exchanged interest between the two countries. “When I talked in the opening of the American Zahlian Library party, I described that cultural effort as the bridge joining the countries. Now I say that this occasion is on of the pillars on which the bridge is built. With yours and our support we can make it a very strong bridge in the service of our two brother countries.
Later Mr. Lab Golmieh said an English speech, then professor Dibs representing Archbishop Shair the Archbishop of the Catholics. Then Major Jbara said a word thanking everyone for the great hospitality they received him in. Moreover, he showed the American lave of Lebanon and the Lebanese emigrants royalty to their homeland.
Then the troops walked to the Major’s house – Mr. Halim Jbara to have lunch where speakers and poets took turns.
Major Jabara Visits the Metropolitan
We described in an earlier “ Nahar “ issue the visit done by Major Jabara to His Excellency the Lofty bishop the Metropolitan Ilia in the archbishopric institution in Beirut.
The first picture represents His Excellency shaking hands with the Major, between them stood Archimandrite Garfriel Salibi.
In the second picture appears the Major and their Excellency the Metropolitan Ilia and Akkar’s Metroplotitan, and notable figures of the sect and they all sat in the reception hall.
In the Presidential Headquarters
Major James Jabara and America’s legated Minister visited the presidential headquarters were received by His Grandeur the president and it lasted for sometime.
Photos and text © by Emad Tabsh