|Birth Day:||June 10, 1925|
|Death Date:||Jun 19, 2015 (age 90)|
As per our current Database, James Salter died on Jun 19, 2015 (age 90).
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He was an officer and pilot in the United States Air Force but later abandoned his military career. He published his first novel, The Hunters, in 1957.
On June 10, 1925, Salter was born and named James Arnold Horowitz, the son of Mildred Scheff and George Horowitz. His father was a real estate broker and businessman, who had graduated from West Point in November 1918 as World War I was ending and served briefly in the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Horowitz grew up in Manhattan, where he attended P.S.6, and the Horace Mann School – his classmates included Julian Beck. While he intended to study at Stanford University or MIT, he entered West Point on July 15, 1942, at the urging of his father – who had rejoined the Corps of Engineers in July 1941, in anticipation of war breaking out. (With others from his original Class of 1919, George Horowitz was called back to West Point after a month of duty to complete a post-graduate officer's course.) Like his father, Horowitz's time at West Point was shortened due to wartime class sizes being greatly increased and the curriculum drastically shortened. He graduated in 1945 after just three years, ranked 49th in general merit in his class of 852.
He completed flight training during his first class year, with primary flight training at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and advanced training at Stewart Field, New York. On a cross-country navigation flight in May 1945, his flight became scattered and, low on fuel, he mistook a railroad trestle for a runway, crash-landing his T-6 Texan training craft into a house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Possibly as a result, he was assigned to multi-engine training in B-25s until February 1946. He received his first unit assignment with the 6th Troop Carrier Squadron, stationed at Nielson Field, the Philippines; Naha Air Base, Okinawa; and Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in January 1947.
Horowitz was transferred in September 1947 to Hickam AFB, Hawaii, then entered post-graduate studies at Georgetown University in August 1948, receiving his master's degree in January 1950. He was assigned to the headquarters of Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, in March 1950, where he remained until volunteering for assignment in the Korean War. He arrived in Korea in February 1952 after transition training in the F-86 Sabre with the 75th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Presque Isle Air Force Base, Maine. He was assigned to the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, a renowned MiG-hunting unit. He flew more than 100 combat missions between February 12 and August 6, 1952 and was credited with a MiG-15 victory on July 4, 1952.
Horowitz subsequently was stationed in Germany and France, promoted to major, and assigned to lead an aerial demonstration team; he became a squadron operations officer, in line to become a squadron commander. In his off-duty time, he wrote his first novel, The Hunters, publishing it in 1956 under the pen name "James Salter". The film rights to the novel allowed Salter to leave active duty with the US Air Force in 1957 to write full-time. He also legally changed his name to Salter. Having had served twelve years in the US Air Force, the last six as a fighter pilot, Salter found the transition to full-time writer difficult.
The 1958 film adaptation, The Hunters starring Robert Mitchum, was honored with acclaim for its powerful performances, moving plot, and realistic portrayal of the Korean War. Although an excellent adaptation by Hollywood standards, it was very different from the original novel, which dealt with the slow self-destruction of a 31-year-old fighter pilot, who had once been thought a "hot shot" but who found only frustration in his first combat experience while others around him achieved glory, some of it perhaps invented.
His 1961 novel The Arm of Flesh drew on his experiences flying with the 36th Fighter-Day Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, between 1954 and 1957. An extensively-revised version of the novel was reissued in 2000 as Cassada. Salter however, later disdained both of his "Air Force" novels as products of youth "not meriting much attention." After several years in the Air Force Reserve, he severed his military connection completely in 1961 by resigning his commission after his unit was called up to active duty for the Berlin Crisis.
He moved back to New York with his family. Salter and his first wife Ann divorced in 1975, having had four children: Allan (born 1955, died 1980), Nina (born 1957), Claude and James (twins, born 1962). Starting in 1976 he lived with journalist and playwright Kay Eldredge. They had a son, Theo Salter, born in 1985, and Salter and Eldredge married in Paris in 1998. Eldredge and Salter co-authored a book entitled Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days, in 2006.
Salter published a collection of short stories, Dusk and Other Stories in 1988. The collection received the PEN/Faulkner Award, and one of its stories ("Twenty Minutes") became the basis for the 1996 film Boys. He was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2000. In 2012, PEN/Faulkner Foundation selected him for the 25th PEN/Malamud Award saying that his works show the readers "how to work with fire, flame, the laser, all the forces of life at the service of creating sentences that spark and make stories burn".
His 1997 memoir Burning the Days uses this prose style to chronicle the impact his experiences at West Point, in the Air Force, and as a celebrity pseudo-expatriate in Europe had on the way he viewed his life-style changes. Although it appears to celebrate numerous episodes of adultery, in fact, Salter is reflecting on what has transpired and the impressions of him it has left, just as does his poignant reminiscence on the death of his daughter. A line from The Hunters expresses these feelings: "They knew nothing of the past and its holiness."
His final novel, All That Is, was published to excellent reviews in 2013.
Currently, James Salter is 96 years, 4 months and 15 days old. James Salter will celebrate 97th birthday on a Friday 10th of June 2022.
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