Jack L. Armstrong, an Air Force colonel whose name was the inspiration for the "All American Boy" radio hero of the 1930s, died Monday in Laguna Niguel after a long illness. He was 74.
During a 21-year military career, Armstrong was a prominent advocate of the non-military uses of atomic power.
After his retirement from the Air Force in 1961, Armstrong worked for the Rocketdyne Division of North American Rockwell (now Rockwell International) in Los Angeles and helped develop the powerful engines that were later used in the Apollo and Gemini space programs, according to his son, James.
Remembered for Name
However, the much-decorated officer is best remembered by his name--a catchy moniker that became familiar to millions of radio listeners as "Jack Armstrong: The All-American Boy."
During the early 1930s, General Mills advertising executives wanted to develop a radio show hero who would somehow represent "All-American virtues . . . of courage, a sense of humor and the championing of ideals," James Armstrong said. "Sammy Gale, a company executive, had been my father's roommate in college, and he decided to use the name 'Jack Armstrong' because it seemed to convey all of that."