Monday, April 21, 2014

WWII movie stars

With the advent of World War II many of the actors went to fight. They gave up their wealth, position and fame to become service men & women, many as simple 'enlisted men'.
     
This page lists but a few, but from this group of only 18 men came over 70 medals in honour of their valour, spanning from Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Hearts and one Congressional Medal of Honour.

   
So while the 'Entertainers of 21st Century' have been in the news media lately, for all the wrong reasons;  I would like to remind you of what the entertainers of 1943 were doing, (70+ years ago).
Most of these brave men have since passed on. 

 'Real Hollywood Heroes'
 
Alec Guinness (Star Wars) operated a British Royal Navy landing craft on D-Day. 
James Doohan ('Scotty' on Star Trek) landed in Normandy with the U.S. Army on D-Day. 
Donald Pleasance (The Great Escape) really was an R.A.F. pilot who was shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans. 
David Niven was a Sandhurst graduate (professional soldier) and Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy. 
Clark Gable (Mega-Movie Star when war broke out).  Although he was beyond the draft age at the time the U.S. entered WW II, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the AAF on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles.

   
He attended the Officers' Candidate School at Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942.  He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943 he was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook where flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s.

   
Capt. Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a Major on Jun. 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over-age for combat. 
 Charlton Heston was an Army Air Corps Sergeant in Kodiak.
Ernest Borgnine was a U.S. Navy (professional sailor) Gunners Mate 1935-1945. 
 Charles Durning was a U.S. Army Ranger at Normandy earning a Silver Star and awarded the Purple Heart.
 Charles Bronson was a Tail Gunner in the Army Air Corps, more specifically on B-29's in the 20th Air Force out of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan. 
 George C. Scott was a decorated U.S. Marine.
Eddie Albert (Green Acres, TV) was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic action as a U.S. Naval officer aiding Marines at the horrific battle on the island of Tarawa in the Pacific Nov. 1943. 
Brian Keith served as a U.S. Marine rear gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabaul in the Pacific.
 Lee Marvin was a U.S. Marine on Saipan during the Marianas campaign when he was wounded earning the Purple Heart.
John Russell: In 1942, he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he received a battlefield commission and was wounded and highly decorated for valor at Guadalcanal. 
Robert Ryan was a U.S. Marine who served with the O.S.S. in Yugoslavia.
 Tyrone Power (an established movie star when Pearl Harbor was bombed) joined the U.S. Marines, was a pilot flying supplies into, and wounded Marines out of, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. 
Audie Murphy, a little 5'5' tall, 110 pound guy from Texas who played cowboy parts :

   
Most decorated serviceman of WWII and earned: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Star Medals, Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals with 'V', 2 Purple Hearts, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, 2 Distinguished Unit Emblems, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns), and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France), World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar, French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Medal of Liberated France, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm. 
Glenn Ford was a U.S. Marine during WW II performing missions behind enemy lines for the O.S.S., and he helped build safe houses in France for those hiding from the Nazis. Mr. Ford also served two tours of duty in  Vietnam and is the only actor to have served with both the Green Berets and the French Foreign Legion. Among his numerous medals and commendations are the Medal of Honor, presented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the French Legion of Honor Medal for his service in World War II, two commendation medals from the U.S. Navy and the Vietnamese Legion of Merit. 

James Stewart entered the Army Air Force as a private and worked his way to the rank of Colonel.

   
During World War II, Stewart served as a bomber pilot, his service record crediting him with leading more than 20 missions over Germany and taking part in hundreds of air strikes during his tour of duty.

   
Stewart earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, France's Croix de Guerre,and 7 Battle Stars during World War II.

   
In peacetime, Stewart continued to be an active member of the Air Force as a reservist, reaching  the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in the late 1950s. 

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