Growing up in a suburb of St. Louis in the 1920s, Harding Zumwalt had two great passions: flying airplanes and playing the trumpet.
At age 12, Zumwalt was performing regularly for a local radio station and by high school he had joined a swing band, putting his gig money toward flying lessons. It would prove to be one talent fostering another, with Zumwalt later joining the Royal Air Force, then the U.S. Army Air Corps, and finally the Missouri Air National Guard. Zumwalt flew more than 40 different aircraft and 71 combat missions. After more than three decades of military service, he retired as a brigadier general and a wing commander, decorated with a Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, among numerous other awards.