Jack D. Hunter

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For other people of the same name, see Jack Hunter (disambiguation).

Jack D. Hunter (June 4, 1921 – April 13, 2009) was an American author and artist, best known for his novel, The Blue Max, which was made into a film of the same name.


Hunter was born in Hamilton, Ohio, on June 4, 1921, the son of Whitney G. and Irene Dayton Hunter. Ironically, while his father, whose long career with the DuPont Company began as a paint color evaluator because of his sensitivity to colors, Hunter was red-green blind. He graduated with a BA in journalism from Penn State University in 1943. During World War II he joined the infantry, but when he could not recognize the color of flares or follow tracer bullets he was transferred to counter-intelligence in a move that spared him the fate of most of the others in his infantry class — death on Omaha Beach during D-Day.

Because he spoke German, having taught himself and then studied it in college, Hunter was sent to Germany just after the war ended. The Allies had discovered that some high-ranking Nazis had gone underground and were waiting until the political atmosphere settled down, at which point the Nazis would infiltrate the new German government. As a 24-year-old lieutenant, Hunter, disguised as a Lithuanian black marketeer, engineered a sting called "Operation Nursery" which resulted in the arrest of over 1000 Nazi plotters in a single night. (See Stars & Stripes article, March 31, 1946.) He was awarded the Bronze Star.

"Operation Nursery," including Jack Hunter's role in it forms the basis of the nonfiction book The Axmann Conspiracy: The Nazi Plan for a Fourth Reich and How the U.S. Army Defeated It, Berkley Books (Penguin), Sept. 2012.[1]

After the war, he worked in various journalistic capacities, as a public relations executive for Du Pont, and as a speech writer in Washington D.C..[2]

His first novel was The Blue Max, and the publisher remarked that, as a new author, they would not spend the money to have an artist paint a color cover for his book. Hunter, who often dabbled in water colors, volunteered to paint it himself. The publisher liked it and used it, and Hunter considered that cover painting to be his first "sale". He then turned what was once a hobby into a second career as an aviation artist.[3]

Hunter was the author of 17 novels, his last being The Ace, which was published on October 1, 2008. Like The Blue Max, which is still popular after 44 years, The Ace deals with World War I aviation, but focuses on the human costs and chaotic conditions that bedeviled the Americans in their need to build a world-class air force virtually overnight.

During the 1980s, Hunter served as the writing coach for reporters working at the (now defunct) Jacksonville Journal and for the Florida Times-Union, which still publishes in Jacksonville. In this role, which continued three days a week for 10 years, Hunter provided encouragement, tutelage and support to hundreds of journalists, some of whom went on to work at The New York Times, The Denver Post, The Miami Herald and in many other venues.

He lived in St. Augustine, Florida, until he died at age 87 on April 13, 2009. He was interred at the Jacksonville National Cemetery.


The Bruno Stachel series

Other novels


External links[edit]

  • Official Site
  • Over the Front—the quarterly issued by the League of WWI Aviation Historians. Volume 13, Number 3, Fall 1998. Article, "The Blue Max Revisited," by Jack D. Hunter, in which the author's autobiographical sketch tells how the novel came to be written and the impact it had on his life.