George Gobel comedian taught fighter pilots, I
believe it was in Oklahoma. Johnny Carson made a big deal about it
once on the Tonight Show, to which George said, "The Japs didn’t get past us!"
Sterling Hayden, US Marines and OSS. Smuggled guns into Yugoslavia
and parachuted into Croatia.
James Stewart, US Army Air Corps. Bomber pilot who rose to the rank
Ernest Borgnine, US Navy. Gunners Mate 1c,
destroyer USS Lamberton.
Ed McMahon, US Marines. Fighter Pilot. (Flew OE-1 Bird Dogs
over Korea as well.)
Telly Savalas, US Army.
Walter Matthau, US Army Air Corps., B-24 Radioman/Gunner and cryptographer.
Steve Forrest, US Army. Wounded, Battle of the Bulge.
Jonathan Winters, USMC. Battleship USS Wisconsin and Carrier USS Bon Homme Richard. Anti-aircraft gunner, Battle of
Paul Newman, US Navy Rear seat gunner/radioman, torpedo bombers of USS
Kirk Douglas, US Navy. Sub-chaser in the Pacific. Wounded in
action and medically discharged.
Robert Mitchum, US Army.
Dale Robertson, US Army. Tank Commander in North Africa under
Patton. Wounded twice. Battlefield Commission.
Henry Fonda, US Navy. Destroyer USS Satterlee.
John Carroll, US Army Air Corps. Pilot in North Africa. Broke his
back in a crash.
Lee Marvin US Marines. Sniper. Wounded in action on
Saipan. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Sec. 7A next to Greg Boyington and Joe Louis.
Art Carney, US Army. Wounded on Normandy beach, D-Day. Limped
for the rest of his life.
Wayne Morris, US Navy fighter pilot, USS Essex. Downed seven Japanese
Rod Steiger, US Navy. Was aboard one of the
ships that launched the Doolittle Raid.
Tony Curtis, US Navy. Sub tender USS Proteus. In Tokyo Bay for
the surrender of Japan.
Larry Storch. US Navy. Sub tender USS
Proteus with Tony Curtis.
Forrest Tucker, US Army. Enlisted as a private, rose to Lieutenant.
Robert Montgomery, US Navy.
George Kennedy, US Army. Enlisted after Pearl Harbor, stayed in
Mickey Rooney, US Army under Patton. Bronze Star.
Denver Pyle, US Navy. Wounded in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Burgess Meredith, US Army Air Corps.
DeForest Kelley, US Army Air Corps.
Robert Stack, US Navy. Gunnery Officer.
Neville Brand, US Army, Europe. Was awarded the Silver Star and
Tyrone Power, US Marines. Transport pilot in the Pacific Theater.
Charlton Heston, US Army Air Corps. Radio
operator and aerial gunner on a B-25, Aleutians.
Danny Aiello, US Army. Lied about his age to enlist at 16.
Served three years.
James Arness, US Army. As an infantryman,
he was severely wounded at Anzio, Italy.
Efram Zimbalist, Jr., US Army. Purple Heart
for a severe wound received at Huertgen Forest.
Mickey Spillane, US Army Air Corps, Fighter Pilot and later Instructor
Rod Serling. US Army. 11th Airborne
Division in the Pacific. He jumped at Tagaytay
in the Philippines and was later wounded in Manila.
Gene Autry, US Army Air Corps. Crewman on transports that ferried
supplies over "The Hump" in the China-Burma-India Theater.
Wiliam Holden, US Army Air Corps.
Alan Hale Jr, US Coast Guard.
Russell Johnson, US Army Air Corps. B-24 crewman who was awarded
Purple Heart when his aircraft was shot down by the Japanese in the
William Conrad, US Army Air Corps. Fighter Pilot.
Jack Klugman, US Army.
Frank Sutton, US Army. Took part in 14 assault landings, including
Leyte, Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor.
Jackie Coogan, US Army Air Corps.
Volunteered for gliders and flew troops and materials into Burma behind
Tom Bosley, US Navy.
Claude Akins, US Army. Signal Corps., Burma and the Philippines.
Chuck Connors, US Army. Tank-warfare instructor.
Harry Carey Jr., US Navy.
Mel Brooks, US Army. Combat Engineer. Saw action in the Battle
of the Bulge.
Robert Altman, US Army Air Corps. B-24 Co-Pilot.
Pat Hingle, US Navy. Destroyer USS Marshall
Fred Gwynne, US Navy. Radioman.
Karl Malden, US Army Air Corps. 8th Air Force, NCO.
Earl Holliman. US Navy. Lied about his age to enlist.
Discharged after a year when they Navy found out.
Rock Hudson, US Navy. Aircraft mechanic, the Philippines.
Harvey Korman, US Navy.
Aldo Ray. US Navy. UDT frogman, Okinawa.
Don Knotts, US Army, Pacific Theater.
Don Rickles, US Navy aboard USS Cyrene.
Harry Dean Stanton, US Navy. Served aboard an LST in the Battle of
Soupy Sales, US Navy. Served on USS Randall in the South Pacific.
Lee Van Cleef, US Navy. Served aboard a sub
chaser then a mine sweeper.
Clifton James, US Army, South Pacific. Was awarded the Silver Star,
Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.
Ted Knight, US Army, Combat Engineers.
Jack Warden, US Navy, 1938-1942, then US Army, 1942-1945. 101st
Don Adams. US Marines. Wounded on Guadalcanal, then served as a
James Gregory, US Navy and US Marines.
Brian Keith, US Marines. Radioman/Gunner in Dauntless dive-bombers.
Fess Parker, US Navy and US Marines. Booted from pilot training for
being too tall, joined Marines as a radio operator.
Charles Durning. US Army. Landed at
Normandy on D-Day. Shot multiple times. Awarded the Silver Star
and Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Survived Malmedy
Raymond Burr, US Navy. Shot in the stomach on Okinawa and medically
Hugh O’Brian, US Marines.
Robert Ryan, US Marines.
Eddie Albert, US Coast Guard. Bronze Star with Combat V for saving
several Marines under heavy fire as pilot of a landing craft during the
invasion of Tarawa.
Cark Gable, US Army Air Corps. B-17 gunner over Europe.
Charles Bronson, US Army Air Corps. B-29 gunner, wounded in action.
Peter Graves, US Army Air Corps.
Buddy Hackett, US Army anti-aircraft gunner.
Victor Mature, US Coast Guard.
Jack Palance, US Army Air Corps. Severely
injured bailing out of a burning B-24 bomber.
Robert Preston, US Army Air Corps. Intelligence Officer
Cesar Romero, US Coast Guard. Coast Guard. Participated in the
invasions of Tinian and Saipan on the assault transport USS Cavalier.
Norman Fell, US Army Air Corps., Tail Gunner, Pacific Theater.
Jason Robards, US Navy. was aboard heavy
cruiser USS Northampton when it was sunk off Guadalcanal. Also served
on the USS Nashville during the invasion of the Philippines, surviving a
kamikaze hit that caused 223 casualties.
Steve Reeves, US Army, Philippines.
Dennis Weaver, US Navy. Pilot.
Robert Taylor, US Navy. Instructor Pilot.
Randolph Scott. Tried to enlist in the Marines but was rejected due
to injuries sustained in US Army, World War 1.
Ronald Reagan. US Army. Was a 2nd Lt. in the Cavalry Reserves
before the war. His poor eyesight kept him from being sent overseas
with his unit when war came so he transferred to the Army Air Corps Public
Relations Unit where he served for the duration.
John Wayne. Declared "4F medically unfit" due to
pre-existing injuries, he nonetheless attempted to volunteer three times
(Army, Navy and Film Corps.) so he gets honorable mention.
And of course we have Audie Murphy, America’s
most-decorated soldier, who became a Hollywood star as a result of his US
Army service that included his being awarded the Medal of Honor.
Would someone please remind me again how many of today’s Hollywood elite
put their careers on hold to enlist in Iraq or Afghanistan? The only
one who even comes close was Pat Tillman, who turned down a contract offer
of $3.6 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in
the US Army after September 11, 2001, and serve as a Ranger in Afghanistan,
where he died in 2004. But rather than being lauded for his choice
and his decision to put his country before his career, he was mocked and
derided by many of his peers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that this is not the America today
that it was seventy years ago. And I, for one, am saddened. My
generation grew up watching, being entertained by and laughing with so many
of these fine people, never really knowing what they contributed to the war
effort. Like millions of Americans during the WWII, there was a job
that needed doing they didn’t question, they went and did it, those that
came home returned to their now new normal life and carried on, very few
ever saying what they did or saw.
They took it as their “responsibility”, their “duty” to Country, to protect
and preserve our freedoms and way of life, not just for themselves but for
all future generations to come. As a member of a later generation,
I’m forever humbly in their debt.