Growing up, Jim Winters never knew about his father's secret life aiding the campaign for Israel's independence.

That's because his father didn't want his kids to know about his involvement, which landed him in prison. Charles Winters had been convicted of violating a U.S. arms embargo for his role in helping send aircraft to Jewish fighters in 1948.

"Old school pride," Jim Winters said of his father's silence.

On Tuesday, President Bush set things right for the Winters family. He pardoned Charles Winters more than two decades after his death and nearly 60 years after he was originally sentenced for his crime. Reached by phone shortly after the pardon was granted, Jim Winters, 44, said the vindication was nothing short of remarkable.

"This is so special for me because I've finally had a chance to do something for him," he told FOXNews.com. His father died in 1984, when Jim was 19.

In all, Bush granted a total of 19 pardons and commuted one prison sentence on Tuesday. Only one other presidential pardon has been granted posthumously in recent times.

Winters, who lives in Miami, had been working for more than a year on the request with a friend who is an attorney in Washington. Even though the case started to pick up steam -- with media attention as well as support from Florida's congressional delegation and famous faces like director Steven Spielberg -- Winters was starting to worry.

He hadn't heard anything since August, until Tuesday when his attorney friend in Washington gave him the good news.

"Is that not amazing?" Winters said.

Charles Winters, a Protestant from Boston, was originally convicted of conspiring to export military aircraft to a foreign country in violation of the Neutrality Act of 1939, which prohibited U.S. nationals from getting in the middle of armed conflicts abroad without express presidential permission.

Winters was convicted for his role in providing aircraft and arms to Jewish forces during the 1948 war for independence in Israel. Two others, Herman Greenspun and Al Schwimmer, also were convicted but did not serve time. They were later granted presidential pardons.

In 1949, Winters was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Jim Winters told FOXNews.com he didn't actually learn of his father's secret past until after he died. His father never spoke of his time in prison or his mission overseas.

But when he attended his father's funeral in 1984, he found the setting decorated with blue and white flowers, symbolic of Israel's flag, and saw that ambassadors from the Jewish nation were in attendance.

His mother, who knew of her husband's past, was later flown to Israel by the nation's government to distribute her husband's ashes.

"That's when it all came to light," Winters said. "At that point, I got the whole story."

He learned that his father, who was in the airplane business shipping products like fruit after World War II, got involved with the Israeli independence campaign because Schwimmer -- his close friend, who was Jewish -- was looking for help.

Winters learned about their 1948 secret mission, in which B-17s left Miami and eventually made their way to Czechoslovakia to pick up arms and bring them to the Jewish fighters. Those involved in the mission, including his father, left the three planes and the arms for the fighters.

"That was the beginning of the Israeli Air Force," Winters said.

In March 1961, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir issued a letter of commendation to Winters to recognize his contributions to Israel's survival as an independent state.

"My father was a very instrumental, important person in the history of the world, and I didn't realize that," Winters said, recalling his childhood. "It would make a great movie."

He said the only time he caught a whiff of his father's past growing up was when his father refused to let him go out hunting with his friends. Winters, who was a teenager at the time, later found out that his father was not allowed to buy weapons or keep them in the house due to his criminal past.

In an August letter to the Department of Justice signed by 21 members of Congress, the representatives urged the administration to grant the posthumous pardon to Winters to "correct the injustice that has been done."

"Mr. Winters' actions helped secure the independence of the state of Israel," the representatives wrote in the letter. They said Israel "may not have survived" without the actions of Winters and others who provided aid to the emerging nation.

Jim Winters was also helped by the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who worked with Rep. Ron Klein, D-Fla., on the Winters request, released a statement saying the pardon was "long overdue."

"The work that Charles Winters did to promote freedom, security and peace in Israel will leave a lasting impact on the nation and her people," Mack said.

The only other presidential pardon granted posthumously in recent times was given to Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Flipper was drummed out of the Army after white officers mistakenly accused him of embezzling about $3,800 from commissary funds.

With this latest batch of pardons, which includes forgiveness for convictions ranging from gun and drug violations to bank and mail fraud, Bush has granted a total of 190 pardons and nine commutations. That's fewer than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their two terms.

In addition to Winters, others granted pardons were:

--William Alvis III, of Flushing, Ohio. Possession of an unregistered firearm and cocaine distribution.

--John Allen Aregood of Riviera, Texas. Conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens.

--Eric Charles Blanke of Parker, Colo. Counterfeiting.

--Steve Doyle Cavender of The Villages, Fla. Conspiring to import, possess, distribute and dispense marijuana.

--Marie Elena Eppens of Lynden, Wash. Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

--Lydia Lee Ferguson of Sun City, Ariz. Aiding and abetting possession of stolen mail.

--Eduviges Duvi Gonzalez-Matsumura of Clovis, Calif. Aiding and abetting embezzlement of bank funds.

--George Clarence Greene Jr. of Gray, Ga. Mail fraud.

--James Won Hee Kang of South Barrington, Ill. Trafficking in counterfeit goods.

--Alan Stephen Maiss of Reno, Nev.

--Richard Harold Miller of Tallahassee, Fla. Conspiracy to defraud the United States.

--Delano Abraham Nixon of Neosho Rapids, Kan. Forging the endorsement on a U.S. Treasury check.

--John H. Overholt of Black Hawk, S.D. Concealment of information affecting Social Security benefits.

--Morris Keith Parker of Georgetown, S.C.

--Robert Truman Reece of Redondo Beach, Calif.

--Donald Edward Roessler of Harrison, Ohio. Embezzlement of mail matter.

--Issac Robert Toussie of Brooklyn, N.Y. False statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and mail fraud.

--David Lane Woolsey of St. George, Utah. Aiding and abetting violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

Bush also commuted the prison sentence of Reed Raymond Prior of Des Moines, Iowa., who was convicted of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

FOXNews.com's Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.