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Hollywood and the military
By SHEILAH PEPPER
The Gazette Staff

 We've become accustomed over the past few years to hearing outbursts from Hollywood left-wingers that betray, at the very least, a disdain for the military. But it was not always thus.

I recently came across a compendium of various military exploits by past movie stars and it was an inspiring read.

Jimmy Stewart entered the Army Air Force as private and worked his way to the rank of colonel. He served as a bomber pilot during World War II. His service record credits 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, seven battle stars and France's Croix de Guerre. In peace time, he remained an active member of the United States Air Force as a reservist. He reached the rank of brigadier general before he retired in the late 1950s.

Clark Gable, a mega movie star when WW II broke out. Although he beyond draft age when the United States entered the war, Gable enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942. He attended officer candidate school in Miami Beach, Florida and graduated as a second lieutenant in October, 1942. He then attended gunnery school and in February of 1943 he was assigned to the 351st Bomber Group in England. He flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s. He returned to the United States with the rank of captain in October 1943 and in June of 1944, he was relieved of duty at his own request as he was over-age for combat.

Tyrone Power was an established star when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He joined the U.S. Marines and became a pilot. He flew supplies into Iwo Jima and Okinawa and flew wounded marines out during and after these terrible battles.

Charles Bronson was a tail gunner, a very dangerous position, in the Army Air Corps. He flew in B-29s with the 20th Air Force out of Guam, Tinian and Saipan. Lee Marvin was a U.S. Marine on Saipan during the campaign in the Marianas against the Japanese. He was wounded in battle and earned a Purple Heart.

Alec Guiness was no stranger to military life when he starred in The Bridge on the River Kwai. He operated a British Royal Navy landing craft during the fearsome D-Day landings in Normandy.

David Niven was a graduate of the British military school at Sandhurst and was a Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy. George C. Scott was a decorated U.S. Marine.

However, most stunning story of all belongs to a Texan, a young East Texan named Audie Murphy. The official narrative for his Medal of Honor states that near Holtzwihr, France, on January 26th, 2nd Lt. Murphy commanded Company B of the 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division when the company was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a wood, 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. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 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 a 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 Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as ten yards, only to be mowed down by his fire.

He received a leg wound but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way 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 fifty.
The citation concludes, 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.

Audie became the most decorated serviceman of World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with First Oak leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with the "V" device and First Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the French Legion of Honor - Grade of Chevalier, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Belgian Croix de Guerre and many, many other honors and medals.

Audie Murphy, on his return to America, went to Hollywood and starred in many movies. He died at the age of just 46 in a 1971 plane crash.

Copyright©2007SheilahPepper

 

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2009 16:03  

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