The world is a very different place than it was seventy years ago. Today would have been my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Although they both passed away a decade ago in their 90’s, I am thankful each day for the life lessons I learned from them.
They lived through the Great War, better known as WWI, the Great Depression and WWII. My father was a Marine officer who spent four years in the South Pacific fighting the Japanese from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. He was again called to action in the Korean War. He never talked much about the war. Most combat veterans didn’t.
Both my parents were brought up in modest means. My mother was raised on a farm in Nova Scotia and my father in the Midwest from Nebraska to South Dakota. They would often remind my sister and I of our good fortune to live in this great country. We were taught to appreciate the freedom we have and much of the world did not.
One of the indicators of how times have changed was the film stars in Hollywood. Most American audiences of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s had no idea of their prior experiences before the glamor and fame.
Unlike the so-called stars of today, there was another era of truly heroic celebrities who helped save this country’s freedom for the activist “stars” of today. Their contributions are astounding and make you wonder how today’s Hollywood liberals would have responded to their country when it needed their help and not their mouth.
Movie Stars Sacrifice for Their Country
Below is a list of yesteryear’s movie stars and how they sacrificed for their country during WWII. They were America’s heroes on, and off-screen.
George Gobel, fighter pilot trainer 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 Tulsa!”
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 of General.
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 Okinawa.
Paul Newman, US Navy Rear seat gunner/radioman, torpedo bombers of USS Bunker Hill.
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 fighters.
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 sixteen years.
Mickey Rooney, US Army under Patton. Bronze Star.
Denver Pyle, US Navy. Wounded in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Medically discharged.
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 Purple Heart.
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 Pilot.
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 Philippines
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 enemy lines.
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 Okinawa.
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 Airborne Division.
Don Adams, US Marines. Wounded on Guadalcanal, then served as a Drill Instructor.
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 Massacre.
Raymond Burr, US Navy. Shot in the stomach on Okinawa and medically discharged.
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.
Clark 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 there was 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 Congressional Medal of Honor.
Thanks for Past Service
The America of today is not the America of seventy years ago. My parents’ generation grew up being entertained and never really knowing the sacrifices those people made to preserve our freedoms and liberty.
Unlike the Sean Penn’s and Susan Sarandons of today who never have a good thing to say about their country, there was a job that needed doing. These brave Americans did so without question. They returned and carried on, few ever saying what they did or saw. It reminds me every day of how lucky my sister and I were to have such parents.
These noble Americans took responsibility, and did their duty to country and their part in preserving and protecting our very freedoms. I am truly humble for their contributions and am in their debt.
Happy anniversary mom and dad. We are grateful we had the honor of knowing you and having parents like you. You made us proud to be Americans.