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Cowboy 57 Documentary


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I found myself watching Dr. Strangelove tonight so it brought back some memories of my dad talking about how my grandfather was in the documentary Cowboy 57 with the SAC alert crew. Oddly enough I'm checking posts in forum: Post WWII, 50's & 60's USAF uniforms and I read about Brigadier General Olbert F. Lassiter and that he was the commander of the 99th Bombardment Wing.

So, with all that I was wondering if anyone had any more information or quite possibly where one might find this documentary.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, I know my dad would poo himself.


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Hi Dutch, Hope you find this as interesting as I did. Dave





Retired Jan. 1, 1965. Died Dec. 6, 1973.


Brigadier General Olbert F. Lassiter, chief of the U.S. Air Force Command Post, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, was assigned to his present duties in August 1963. A command pilot, he started his military career in the Florida National Guard while an engineering student at the University of Florida. An avid physical fitness student - he won the national Golden Gloves title as a lightweight and welterweight.


Before graduation with an engineering degree, he spent two years in the Florida National Guard and two years as a radio operator in the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon graduation, General Lassiter entered the aviation cadet program. He won his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant in May 1940.


His first solo flight, however, was in Miami, Fla., in 1935. At the age of 15 he flew a small Aeronca airplane to log his first solo. During World War II he flew 36 combat missions in P-38 and B-25 pursuit planes and 29 combat missions in B-29 bombers.


After the war, he did stunt flying in a P-38 in the Hollywood movie "A Guy Named Joe," starring Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunn. Later he flew in scenes for the movie "Women Courageous," and in 1952 he was technical adviser for Paramount Studios' production "Strategic Air Command," starring James Stewart. The two men later worked together on "Cowboy 57," when General Lassiter was a B-52 wing commander at Westover Air Force Base, Mass.


In 1947 General Lassiter flew the B-29 "Pacusan Dreamboat" for the world's distance record and the world's speed record for 5,000 kilometers and 10,000 kilometers. In addition, he broke the U.S. transcontinental record in 1948.


The world's distance record, set 1-2 Aug. 1947, was 9,002 miles without refueling, and stood until Dec. 15, 1960, when it was broken by a SAC B-52G which flew 10,000 miles without refueling. However, the record still stands for the propeller-type aircraft.


General Lassiter was test pilot and project officer for another record flight, the around-the-world, non-stop flight of a B-50 bomber nicknamed "Lucky Lady." In 1950 he did much of the test flying on the new B-47 Stratojet bomber. He later served as SAC project officer on other test programs at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. After commanding the 55th Reconnaissance Wing at Forbes Air Force Base, Kan., General Lassiter became the first SAC commander of Thule Air Force Base, Greenland.


His record of having flown more than 300 types of aircraft includes rocket, jet and turbo-prop experimental planes. He completed B-52 training at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., in 1958, and was commander of the 99th Bombardment Wing (B-52) at Westover Air Force Base, Mass. Prior to his current assignment, General Lassiter was commander of the 801st Air Division, Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio.


(Up to date as of November 1963)

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Maybe the project was not completed. "Cowboy 57" is not listed in Stewart's filmography but "X-15" is (a USAF promotional "semi-doc" released in 1961. Jimmy Stewart narrated; plenty of B-52 footage. Link here).


Here is another picture of a much younger Lt. Col. Lassiter found on Internet (ca. WWII?) while Googling this subject:



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To ere was human, to forgive was not SAC policy.

Amen to that!

By the way... it's interesting that the good generals bio list a B-25 as a "pursuit' plane! I understand some Russian pilots flew them like fighters. w00t.gif

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  • 11 months later...

I've gotten a little further on this topic and I'd like to share.


First, the episode was called Cowboy Five Seven, said completely as in radio speak, not 57 as I orginally thought.

The program this episode is from was called Schlitz Playhouse of the stars, also known as Lux Playhouse as they alternated weeks.

Original air date was 7 July 1959 (Season 8, Episode 17)


This documentary was about a typical day in the lives of the men of SAC, was made by Jimmy Stewart, a reserve officer in the air force, at Westover (Mass.) Air Base. No professional actors are used; officers and enlisted men and their families portray themselves.


I've seen a few Schlitz and Lux available on bootleg DVD on a few sites, trying to see if they have this particular episode available.

Hopefully! :twothumbup:

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  • 13 years later...

I had written CBS back in 2011 about this particular program, never heard anything back. 
On a whim last night I googled “Cowboy 57” and low and behold a YouTube clip was featured.

It was uploaded 3 years ago, but this IS the episode I had been looking for.

I had only heard my now late father, talk about how his dad and his crew were featured (2 years before he was even born) and there he is “Steve Kimball” at 5m:17s


I have a few crew photos so most of the men I recognized instantly. 

I am over the moon!



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