Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
Wherein we share an eclectic assortment of items gleaned from the
Internet, media and contributing readers.
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May 2009 Issue


Alec Guinness
(1914-2000) London, England
Operated a  British Royal Navy landing craft on D-Day.
The Bridge Over the River Kwai ~ Star Wars 
Great Expectations ~ Lawrence of Arabia
James Doohan
(1920-2005) Vancouver, Canada
Captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery
Landed in Normandy with the U. S. Army on  D-Day.
Star Trek TV & Films
Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Fantasy Island
Donald Pleasance
(1919-1995) Nottinghamshire, England
R. A. F. pilot who was shot down, held  prisoner and tortured by the  Germans.
IMDB: The Great Escape ~ James Bond and Halloween films
David Niven
Sandhurst graduate - Royal Army
Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy
He relates many tales of his war service 
(including the time he lets a German general slip away) 
in his autobiography The Moon's a Balloon
James Stewart
Stewart entered the Army Air  Force as a private. 
During World War II, he served as a bomber pilot 
leading more than 20 missions over Germany and 
took 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 seven Battle Stars during World War II. 
In peace time, 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.
Clark Gable
Although he was beyond the draft age, 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 he  flew operational missions over Europe in  B-17s from which he obtained the combat film footage for the movie Combat America.
Capt. Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a major on June  12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over-age for  combat.
Charlton Heston
An Army Air Corps Sergeant in Kodiak.
Ernest Borgnine 
A U. S. Navy Gunners Mate 1935-1945.
Charles Durning
A U. S. Army  Ranger at Normandy earning a Silver Star and awarded the Purple Heart.
Durning landed at Omaha Beach in the D-Day invasion. 
He survived the landing, but was wounded in an ambush during the Battle of the Bulge. 
He was captured, escaped, and narrowly missed assassination at the Malmedy Massacre. 
He still carries his memories and battle fatigue to this day.
Charles Bronson
An US Army Air Corps tail gunner on B-29s 
in the 20th Air Force out of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan.
George C. Scott 
A decorated U. S. Marine.
Eddie Albert 
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.
A long list of films and the Green Acres TV series.
Brian Keith 
A US Marine rear  gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in  the Pacific.

Lee Marvin 
A U.S. Marine on Saipan during the Marianas campaign 
where he was wounded earning  the Purple Heart.
John Russell
Enlisted in  the Marine Corps  in 1942 
where he received a battlefield  commission and 
was wounded and highly decorated for valor  at Guadalcanal
Robert Ryan 
A U. S. Marine who  served with the O. S. S. in Yugoslavia.
Tyrone Power
Joined  the U.S. Marines after the Pearl Harbor attack.
He served as a pilot 
flying supplies into, and wounded Marines out of, Iwo Jima and  Okinawa.
Audie Murphy
US Army - the most decorated soldier of WWII.
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.

This 5'5'' tall 110-pound Texan returned from the war to star in a multitude of Western and action roles.


 Don Adams
  - USMC, Contracted malaria on Guadalcanal
 John Agar - US Army Air Corps, Sergeant.
 Gene Autry - Flight Officer, Air Transport Command, 1942-1946
 Eddie Albert  - US Navy. Drove Amtracks in several Pacific invasions. He served in the landings at Saipan in 1943, where he rescued wounded and stranded Marines from the beachhead. At Tarawa, he was wounded and lost most of his hearing and earned the Bronze Star.
 James Arness - US Army, Wounded at Anzio. Purple Heart and Bronze Star


Martin Balsam - US Army.
James Best - US Army Air Corps.
Richard Boone - US Navy.
Neville Brand - US Army.
Mel Brooks (Melvin Kaminsky) joined army in WWII and became a combat engineer. Cleared German mines after the Battle of the Bulge. He organized shows for the US troops, and when the German army began transmitting propaganda over loudspeakers Brooks is said to have replied with a version of Al Jolson's 'Toot-toot-tootsie'.
Richard Burton - RAF (1944-1947)

Art Carney
  - US Army. Carney went to Normandy in July of 1944 as a replacement to the 28th Division in position around St Lô. He was part of a 30 calibre machine gun squad. On 15 August 1944 he had just taken up his position and was hit in the right leg by mortar shrapnel. After receiving field treatment, he was sent back to Britain and then the US. He once said of his military career, "Never fired a shot and maybe never wanted to. I really cost the government money."
Julia Child served with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in Ceylon and China during WWII.
Jeff Chandller - US Army.
Robert Clary - In a Nazi concentration camp
Jackie Coogan  - US Army Air Corps. Enlisted in Army March 1941. After Pearl Harbor, requested transfer to Air Corps as a glider pilot because of his civilian flying experience. After graduating from Glider School, he was made a Flight Officer and  volunteered for hazardous duty with the 1st Air Commando Group. In Dec. 1943, the unit was sent to India where, by using CG-4A gliders, it airlifted crack British troops under Gen. Orde Wingate during the night aerial invasion of Burma (Mar. 5, 1944), landing them in a small jungle clearing 100 miles behind Japanese lines.
Tony Curtis - US Navy joined 1943 at age 17. In Tokyo Bay he watched the surrender ceremonies from the Signal Bridge of the USS Proteus.

Ossie Davis
- US Army
Kirk Douglas - US Navy


Maurice Evans  was in a Special Entertainment Unit that toured the South Pacific.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr
. - US Navy. He joined the naval reserves before the war.  During the war he served on the Battleship Massachuesetts and was a Commando raider sent on several land attack missions. He retired from the reserves, years later, as a full Captain. He wrote about his war years in the book "A Hell of a War" which also covers his duties in helping organize the forerunners of today's Navy Seals.
Henry Fonda  - US Navy. Bronze Star for Valor.
Glenn Ford - US Navy. In addition to his WWII service, he served in the reserves during the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. He retired as a Captain in the US Naval Reserve.

Frank Gorshin
- US Army (Appeared in the Combat episode The Medal)
Shecky Greene - US Navy

Alan Hale
US Coast Guard during WWII.
Sterling Hayden USMC
Jack Hawkins - Volunteered to serve in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He spent most of his military career arranging entertainment for the British forces in India
David Hedison
Audrey Hepburn, as a child she was a courier for World War II resistance fighters in Holland
Benny Hill - British Army
William Holden - US Army
Rick Jason
- US Army Air Corps

Bob Keeshan
- ("Captain Kangaroo") U.S. Marines, enlisted two weeks before his 18th birthday. He saw no combat because his enlistment was just two months before the bombing of Hiroshima
George Kennedy - US Army, served 16 Years
Werner Klemperer - US Army
Don Knotts - USA 1943

Burt Lancaster
- US Army
Jack Lemmon - US Navy Reserve 1945-1946 

Strother Martin - US Navy Swimming instructor
Patrick MacNee Royal Navy.
Steve McQueen USMC
Jan Merlin - Enlisted in US Navy April, 1942, served as a destroyer torpedoman until April 1946, honorably discharged. Played Roger Manning, Space Cadet!
Burgess Meredith - US Army Air Corps [Source: Internet Movie Database]
Gary Merrill US Army
Robert Montgomery - US Navy Reserve

Caroll O’Connor
- Merchant Marines 1942


Jack Palance US Army Air Corps. 455th bomb group. Required facial reconstruction from terrible injuries received in 1943 when his B17 crash landed in Britain.
Dick Peabody - US Navy
Tyrone Power - USMC Pilot in the South Pacific.

Anthony Quayle
Royal Artillery


Jason Robards Jr - US Navy.  He was a radioman on duty at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. He wrote about his experiences in A Hell of a War.
Ronald Reagan  - Captain, US Army Air Corps.  Because of a severe hearing loss, he was not allowed any flying duties.  However, he appeared in training films.  Prior to the war, he was a cavalry officer in the Nebraska National Guard.
Carl Reiner Entered army In 1942 and trained as a radio operator. He later studied French on assignment at Georgetown University to become an interpreter, but became a teletype operator in the Signal Corps where, on the way to Iwo Jima from Hawaii, was assigned to Maurice Evans' Special Entertainment Unit. For 18 months, he toured the South Pacific as a comedian in GI reviews.
Don Rickles - US Navy.  Destroyer duty. He has said of one deployment, "It was so hot and humid, the crew rotted."
Andy Rooney -  Sergeant, US Army. Early in war served with artillery regiment assigned to England. Joined Stars And Stripes in London. In 1943, Rooney is among first correspondents allowed aboard B-17 bombers attacking Germany. He wrote of his war experiences in the book My War.
Mickey Rooney - US Army. PFC. Served 21 months with a unit that entertained the troops

Albert Salmi
- US Army.
Charles Schultz (cartoonist)  - US Army. Staff sergeant and leader of machine gun squad.
Rod Serling - US Army paratroopers [Source: Internet Movie Database]
Robert Stack - US Navy.  Because of his expertise as an Olympic champion skeet shooter, he was assigned to teach anti-aircraft gunnery.
Rod Stieger  - Torpedoman, US Navy. Falsified his age to enlist at 16 [Source: A&E's biography]

Judge Wapner
of The People's Court was saved from a sniper's bullet when it lodged in a can of tuna he was carrying while an Army officer in the Pacific
Eli Wallach Sergeant US Army Medical Corps as an admin clerk.
Jack Warden Served in the 101st Airborne during WWII.
James Whitmore - USMC. WWII interrupted his pre-law studies at Yale. He received his degree while at boot camp and served as an officer in the Marine Corps.

Actors who served during other times:
Alan Bates - Royal Air Force
Humphrey Bogart - US Navy, wounded in World War One, tried to enlist in WWII but was turned down because of his age.
Michael Caine - Royal Fusiliers
Sean Connery - Royal Navy
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