Celebrities who contributed their services in WWII-Part 3

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Tony Curtis is a legend in his own right. He has starred in dozens of classic films including Some Like It Hot, The Defiant Ones ,Spartacus and Operation Petticoat.

He enlisted in the United States Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and war was declared. He joined the Pacific submarine force. Curtis served aboard a submarine tender, the USS Proteus, until the end of the Second World War.

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On September 2, 1945, Curtis witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay from his ship’s signal bridge about a mile away.

John Coltrane

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John served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. It is said that he joined the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army. He enlisted in 1945, August 6th, the same day that the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He found himself being shipped off to Pearl Harbor and was stationed at Manana Barracks. While in the Navy, he was a member of the swing band, the Melody Masters. Coltrane, who is also known as “Trane,”

Johnny Carson

 

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Carson is famous as the host of The Tonight Show, a role that he held for 30 years.Carson joined the United States Navy on June 8, 1943, and received V-12 Navy College Training Program officer training at Columbia University and Millsaps College. Commissioned an ensign late in the war, Carson was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania in the Pacific.

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While in the Navy, Carson posted a 10–0 amateur boxing record, with most of his bouts fought on board the Pennsylvania.He was en route to the combat zone aboard a troop ship when the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war. Carson served as a communications officer in charge of decoding encrypted messages. He said that the high point of his military career was performing a magic trick for United States Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal.

James_Forrestal_-_SecOfDefIn a conversation with Forrestal, the Secretary asked Carson if he planned to stay in the navy after the war.In response, Carson said no and told him he wanted to be a magician. Forrestal asked him to perform, and Carson responded with a card trick.Carson made the discovery that he could entertain and amuse someone as cranky and sophisticated as Forrestal.

Don Knotts

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Jesse Donald “Don” Knotts was an American comedian  best known as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, a 1960s sitcom for which he earned five Emmy awards.

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Once the second world war came along, he enlisted in the army and began entertaining his fellow troops. He toured the pacific islands with Stars and Gripes, a variety show put on by other troops. An urban legend claims that Knotts served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, serving as a drill instructor at Parris Island, but this is not true

 

Robert Montgomery

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When Robert Montgomery enlisted into the US Navy during the start of World War 2, he was already a huge name. He had acted opposite of huge actors like Greta Garbo and Carole Lombard and had been nominated for several Oscars

After World War II broke out in Europe in September, 1939, and while the United States was still officially neutral, Montgomery enlisted in London for American field service and drove ambulances in France until the Dunkirk evacuation. He then returned to Hollywood and addressed a massive rally on the MGM lot for the American Red Cross in July 1940. Montgomery returned to playing light comedy roles, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) with Carole Lombard. He continued his search for dramatic roles. For his role as Joe Pendleton, a boxer and pilot in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Montgomery was nominated for an Oscar a second time. After the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, he joined the United States Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander, and served on the USS Barton (DD-722) which was part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

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Harry Dean Stanton

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Harry Dean Stanton might not be an A-list celebrity, but  he worked with the best of them. He has been in a number of big name pictures that include The Godfather 2, Red Dawn, Alien, Pretty in Pink and The Green Mile.

During World War II, Stanton served in the United States Navy, including a stint as a cook aboard the Landing Ship Tank USS LST-970 during the Battle of Okinawa.

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Lee Van Cleef

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Many will remember Lee Van Cleef for his role as Angel Eyes in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. No doubt his penetrating and scary eyes are what saw him play the villain in a number of big Western flicks throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s

After basic training and further training at the Naval Fleet Sound School, Van Cleef was assigned to a submarine chaser and then to a minesweeper, USS Incredible, on which he worked as a sonarman.

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The ship initially patrolled the Caribbean, then moved to the Mediterranean, participating in the landings in southern France. In January 1945, Incredible moved to the Black Sea, and performed sweeping duties out of the Soviet Navy base at Sevastopol, Crimea.WWIIVictory

Afterwards the ship performed air-sea rescue patrols in the Black Sea before returning to Palermo, Sicily. By the time of his discharge in March 1946, he had achieved the rank of Sonarman First Class (SO1) and had earned his mine sweeper patch.

 

He also had been awarded the Bronze Star and the Good Conduct Medal. By virtue of his deployments Van Cleef also qualified for the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

 

Henry Fonda

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A fellow actor known for another classic and iconic Western “Once upon a time in the West”(and many other movie)

Fonda enlisted in the United States Navy to fight in World War II, saying, “I don’t want to be in a fake war in a studio.”Previously, James Stewart and he had helped raise funds for the defense of Britain.Fonda served for three years, initially as a Quartermaster 3rd Class on the destroyer USS Satterlee.

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He was later commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in Air Combat Intelligence in the Central Pacific and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Navy Presidential Unit Citation.

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