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.
Audie Murphy (1928-1971) Lieut. U.S. Army. 1942-45. WW II. Enlisting as a Pvt he was later commissioned for heroism. Awards incl 33 U.S. medals (including 2 Silver and 2 Bronze Stars, 3 Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Medal of Honor), 5 from France, and 1 from Belgium. He attained the rank of major in the Texas Nat’l Guard in 1956 and retired from the Army Reserves in 1969. He starred in 44 movie films.
Walter Brennan enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 22 to serve in World War I. He served in an artillery unit and although he got through the war without being wounded, his exposure to poison gas ruined his vocal chords, leaving him with the high-pitched voice texture that made him a natural for old man roles while still in his thirties. He was too old to serve in World War II.
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.
Brian Keith (1921-1997), SGT, U.S. Marine Corps WW II. He served (1942–1945) as an air gunner (he was a Radio-Gunner in the rear cockpit of a two-man Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bomber in a U.S. Marine squadron), and received an Air Medal.
On Sept. 24, 1944, 1st Lt. Mary Louise Hawkins was evacuating 24 patients from the fighting at Palau to Guadalcanal when the C-47 ran low on fuel. The pilot made a forced landing in a small clearing on Bellona Island. During the landing, a piece of metal severed the trachea of one patient. Hawkins kept the man's throat clear of blood with makeshift tubing until aid arrived 19 hours later. All of her patients survived. Hawkins received the Distinguished Flying Cross for her bravery.
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.
Ben Kuroki - flew a total of 58 combat missions during World War II, and is the only Japanese-American in the United States Army Air Forces to serve in combat operations in the Pacific theater of World War II.
Ronald Reagan, In December 1941, right after the U.S. entered into World War II, Reagan was drafted into the army. His near-sightedness kept him from the front so he spent three years in the army working for the Motion Picture Army Unit making training and propaganda films. Then he served as Governor of CA, and they went on to two terms as The President of the United States of America.
Charles Bronson, In 1943, enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as a B-29 aerial gunner as a Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based in Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service.
Robert Edward Lee, around age 38, and his son William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, around age 8, c.1845. Growing up, Robert said of his son "too large to be a man, too small to be a horse."During the American Civil War, William served as a commander of cavalry in his father's army of Northern Virginia. Wounded at Brandy Station he was then captured at his wife's house at Hickory Hill. "Rooney" was eventually exchanged and he would surrender with his father at Appomattox Courthouse in April of 1865.
Ronald Reagan (1911-2006) He enlisted in Army 1935. Enlisted Reserve 1937. Regan was a private in Troop B, 322nd Cavalry and ordered to active duty in 1942. Due to his nearsightedness, was classified for limited service only, which excluded serving overseas. He was assigned to First Motion Picture Unit in 1944, where Captain Reagan remained until end of World War II. He served as the 33rd Governor of California. As the 40th President of United States, his final rank was Commander-in-Chief.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the 1st African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, African Americans in many U.S. states were still subject to the Jim Crow laws.[N 1] The American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army. Despite these adversities, they trained and flew with distinction.