On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy perpetrated a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, compelling the USA to enter into the horrific global conflict called World War II.
Many Hollywood movie stars were involved in military action during WWII.
JAMES STEWART (1908-1997)
Enlisted in 1940 -- commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant after Pearl Harbor attack -- as a licensed pilot he trained other pilots -- appointed squadron commander in 1943 -- flew combat missions over Germany, leading 20 missions and participating in hundreds of other air strikes -- retired as an active member of the Air Force Reserve in the late 1950s as a Brigadier General.
CLARK GABLE (1901-1960)
Joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 after the death of his wife, Carol Lombard -- assigned to aerial gunnery training -- commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant -- flew in operational missions over Europe in B-17s -- relieved of duty (over-age for combat) in 1944 at the rank of Major.
LEE MARVIN (1924-1987)
Joined the Marines after being expelled from several prep schools -- wounded during the Battle of Saipan, during which most of his company of Marines were killed -- he received a Purple Heart and was given a medical discharge at the rank of Private First Class.
AUDIE MURPHY (1924-1971)
Stood 5' 5" and enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor at age 16 by lying about his age -- the most decorated soldier in World War II, including the Congressional Medal of Honor -- his Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
"Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective."
TYRONE POWER (1914-1958)
Enlisted in the Marines in 1942 -- having been a pilot prior to enlistment, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1943 -- he flew cargo into war zones in the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa, then flew wounded Marines out of the war zones -- released from duty in 1946 at the rank of Captain.
EARNEST BORGNINE (1917-2012)
Joined the Navy in 1935 and was discharged in 1941, but re-enlisted after Pearl Harbor -- discharged again in 1945, after 10 years in the Navy, at the rank of Gunner's Mate.
CHARLES BRONSON (1921-2003)
Enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1943 -- served as an aerial gunner on B-29s -- saw action in Guam, Tinian and Saipan -- awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in action.
EDDIE ALBERT (1906-2005)
Prior to WWII, he worked in a circus in Mexico as a clown and high-wire artist while secretly on assignment for Army Intelligence photographing German U-boats in Mexican Harbors -- enlisted in the Navy in 1942 -- awarded a Bronze Star for his actions during the Invasion of Tarawa in 1943 -- was the pilot of a landing craft that rescued 47 Marines while under heavy enemy fire.
Many other Hollywood actors were also active on military duty during in World War II, including George C. Scott, Brian Keith, John Russell, Robert Ryan, Charles Durning and others.
December 7, 2011, was the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
My father, Weston K. Burquest, passed on to the Great Beyond the following day, December 8, 2011, at age 92.
Rest in Peace.
My father was conscripted (drafted) during World War II. He eventually became a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Air Force, training others to become pilots, and was discharged at the end of the war as a First Lieutenant. He was not an actor or a hero -- just another one of the more than 11 million men who were called upon by their country to defend freedom and were inducted (drafted) into military service in WWII.
"In peace, sons bury their fathers -- in war, fathers bury their sons." Herodotus
Only when the power of love overcomes the love of power, will there be Peace on Earth.
The last Monday in May is Memorial Day -- a day to honor all those who lost life and limb in defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Quote for the Day – "Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace." Thomas Jefferson
Bret Burquest is the author of 12 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam Era.