Carl Maxie Brashear (January 19, 1931 – July 25, 2006) was the 1st African American to become a U.S. Navy Master Diver, rising to the position in 1970. His life story is dramatized in the 2000 motion picture Men of Honor, in which he was portrayed by actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. Brashear enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Feb 25, 1948, shortly after the Navy had been desegregated by President Truman. He graduated from the U.S. Navy Diving & Salvage School 1954-1st African-American to attend & graduate.
In 1943, Charles B. Hall became the first black fighter pilot to down an enemy aircraft. Hall was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his valor in this World War II action. His squadron presented him with its own reward, a chilled bottle of Coke, a precious commodity in the Mediterranean theater. Hall was a member of the 99th Fighter Squadron.
Future US President George H.W. Bush as a Navy Pilot During World War II, Ca. 1942
George H. W. Bush (Born: June 12, 1924), (41st U.S. President) in his uniform during World War 2. Enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor as an 18 year old, and undertook flight training, was commissioned as an Ensign, to become the youngest Naval Aviator to then. Served in USS San Jucinto, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Actor Russell Johnson, best known as "The Professor" on Gilligan's Island, served in the US Army Air Force during WWII. He flew 44 combat missions as a bombardier in B-25 bombers. In March 1945, he and two other B-25s were shot down in the Philippines. He broke both his ankles and the radioman next to him was killed. Johnson earned a Purple Heart, among other honors. He was honorably discharged and later served in the Army Reserve. He used his GI Bill to fund his acting lessons.
WWII -- original caption: "Willa Beatrice Brown, a 31-year-old Negro American, serves her country by training pilots for the U.S. Army Air Forces. She is the first Negro woman to receive a commission as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Civil Air Patrol."
Clark Gable (1901-1960) Major US Army Air Corps 1942-44 WW II. Although beyond draft age, Clark Gable enlisted as a private. Assigned to OCS he excelled and received a commission. He flew five combat mission as an observer/gunner in a B-17earning a Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal. On his fourth mission, a 20mm shell cut the heel from his boot. His discharge was signed by Captain Ronald Reagan. Gable starred in 67 movie films.
Lillian Yonally, who was 17 when war broke out, joined the WASPS and trained at the Sweetwater Army Field in Texas flying B25 bombers. She served in the seventh class of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment in which women pilots lead training exercises for male pilots including aircraft tracking both during the night and at high altitude, along with acting as targets for combat training. 38 WASPS were killed during WWII.
George Harris Kennedy, Jr. (born February 18, 1925) is an American actor. He put aside show business during World War II, served under General Patton, and was in the United States Army for 16 years, seeing combat and working in the Armed Forces radio. He was involved with the opening of the first Army Information Office.
About 1,100 young women flew military aircraft stateside during World War II as part of a program called Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. These civilian volunteers ferried and tested planes so male pilots could head to combat duty.
Edward P. "Ed" McMahon Jr. (1923-2009). Capt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1943-45, 52-53, WW II & Korean War. Served as a Corsair fighter pilot instructor in WW II, then flew 85 artillery-spotting missions over Korea in a Cessna Bird Dog earning 6 Air Medals. He was later promoted to colonel in the reserves, and BrigGen in the Calif Nat'l Guard.