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List of 10: Famous Personalities Who were Korean War Vets

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This is from War History OnLine.

I did not know about Casey Kasem or Charlie Rangel.

 

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. in lieu of this celebration, let us learn history and know 10 famous personalities who had Korean War ties.

It was early morning of June 25, 1950 when North Korean soldiers, numbering to about 75,000 and in a coordinated attack, rushed through the 38th parallel to invade their southern neighbor. Basically considered as the Cold War’s first military action, the Korean War lasted for three years at the cost of 5 million lives – both soldiers and civilians.

Here are ten well-known persons, from actors to astronauts, who served during this said conflict.

1. Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong Korean War

Neil Armstrong went down history as the first human being to walk on the moon but before he did so, he served in the US Navy during the Korean War. He had to since he was going through college with his tuition being paid for by the Holloway Plan, a US Navy scholarship.

It was on 1949 when Neil Armstrong started his flight training to become a navy pilot. Two years later, on September 3, 1951, Armstrong had to eject from his F9F Panther after an anti-aircraft gun struck it down during a low bombing raid. He was only 21 at that time; it was only his fifth day after flying his first campaign in the Korean War.

F9F Panthers flying over Korea, c. 1951; 116 was piloted by Neil Armstrong.
F9F Panthers flying over Korea, c. 1951; 116 was piloted by Neil Armstrong.

Eventually, Armstrong went on to serve almost a full year in the Korean War flying 78 missions and earning three air medals.

2. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin

Armstrong was not the only Korean War vet aboard the Apollo 11. Buzz Aldrin, like him, also served during the Korean War. In fact, he is also a decorated pilot.

Buzz Aldrin Korean War

Buzz, the second man to step on the moon, graduated from the US Military Academy in West Point third in his class in 1951. He, then, went on to enter the US Air Force and was assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing.

Just a day short of Christmas in 1951, Buzz was shipped off to Korea where he became a F-86 Sabre Jet pilot flying a total of 66 combat missions. Unlike Armstrong, Aldrin served in the Korean War until the ceasefire declaration in 1953.

he went on to become the recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his service in the conflict which included downing two Soviet-made MiGs.

3. Sir Michael Caine

Michael Caine Korean War

Sir Michael Caine, born Maurice Micklewhite Jr., saw extensive combat during the Korean War before he became an Oscar-winning actor.

Sir Caine was drafted into the British army May of 1951 and became a 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers member. He arrived in Korea with his unit and was assigned on the front lines which were along the Samichon River. Here, he participated in heavy fighting as well as dangerous nighttime patrols that took him to No Man’s Land.

Not long after that, Sir Michael Caine contacted malaria that led to his being discharged from the army in 1953. Eventually, he returned to London and took his first step to being an actor by studying acting.

Ironically, the first major role he got was playing a British private in the 1956 war classic A Hill in Korea.

4. Ed McMahon

ed-mcmahon korean war

Comedian and considered one of the TV/Movie industry’s greatest “sidekicks”, Ed McMahon actually served in two conflicts — World War Two and the Korean War. But it was his service in the latter that he became the recipient of six air medals.

Ed was able to serve as a flight instructor in the US Marine Corps during WWII. However, he did not have the opportunity to fly on combat missions. He was already working as a TV host in Philly when he was recalled by the Marines for the Korean War.

He went back into service on February 1953 and flew unarmed Cessna O-1E Bird Dogs until the ceasefire later that year. In all, he flew 85 artillery-spotting assignments which he did over enemy lines. You may ask why he was able to undertake so many assignments in just a short span of time? It was because Ed flew as many as five missions a day during his Korean war service.

5. John Glenn

john glenn korean war

Ed Mcmahon is not the only well-known personality who was able to serve in two wars. John Glenn, who went down history as the first American to orbit Earth as well as a future US senator, also did.

The Second World War found John Glenn flying combat missions in the South Pacific as a Marine Corps fighter pilot. He was able to complete 59 assignments before the war ended.

Eventually, the future astronaut returned to the cockpit when the Korean War broke out and flew a total of 90 missions during his two tours of duty piloting F9F Panther and F-86 Sabre jets. It was during the last nine days of the said conflict that he downed three MiGs.

After his Korean War service, John Glenn graduated from a naval test pilot program and became “Mercury Seven” astronauts’ oldest member.

6. Ted Williams

Ted Williams Korean War

Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams manage to snag a place within the Baseball Hall of Fame with his 521 home runs despite being absent for about five full seasons. His reason? Military service.

Ted Williams trained as a pilot and a gunner during the Second World War but did not see any combat. It was in 1952, after playing six games that year’s baseball season, that he was recalled by the military to serve in the Korean War.

In all, Ted Williams was able to fly 39 combat missions as a pilot in the Marine Corps. His assignments include a number where he was John Glenn’s wingman. There were at least three incidents where Ted William’s plane was hit by enemy gunfire but fortunately, he survived.

He was finally discharged following the July 1953 ceasefire and was the recipient of three air medals for his Korean War service.

7. Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem Korean War

Well-known American DJ and voice actor [he was the voice behind Shaggy Rogers of the Scooby-Doo franchise for 40 years] Casey Kasem was also a Korean War vet.

Kasem was already tinkering with voice acting and radio hosting while studying in Wayne State University, Detroit when he got drafted into the US army. It was during the Korean War that he was able to hone his broadcast skills on air as he worked as a DJ-slash-announcer in the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network.

He also produced as well as performed in several radio drama broadcasts for the soldiers.

8. James Garner

james Garner Korean War

James Garner, known for his roles in Maverick, The Rockford Files and playing the older version of Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook, was a decorated Korean War vet receiving Two Purple Hearts for the injuries he sustained during the said conflict.

Garner, born James Bumgarner, was a US Army private during the Korean War. He was with the 5th Regimental Combat Team, a unit which sustained heavy casualties during the war. Garner himself was injured several times throughout his service. As a matter of fact, he sustained several minor wounds on his hands and face while he was only on his second day in Korea after being hit with shrapnel from a mortar round.

After the war, Garner pursued acting and starred in a number of war-themed movies including the celebrated The Great Escape.

9. Charles Rangel

Charles_Rangel Korean War

The second longest current serving member of the House of Representatives is not only a Korean war vet but he also displayed an extraordinary act of bravery while in service that merited a Bronze Star with Valor device and a Purple Heart.

Rangel was a high school dropout when he joined the US Army in 1948. During the Korean War, he was a member of the all-black 503rd Field Artillery Battalion.

It was in November 1950 during the bloody Battle of Kunu-ri when Rangel led about 40 of his comrades to safety behind enemy lines after being encircled by the Chinese Army. He did this in spite of the shrapnel wounds he sustained.

10. Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Korean War

Before becoming a country music royalty, Johnny Cash joined the US Air Force first weeks after Korean War broke out. After showing deftness with radio communications, the future country singer was shipped off to Landsberg, Germany where he worked as a high-speed Morse Code intercept operator. It was his responsibility to oversee Soviet Army transmissions, the USSR playing a covert role during the conflict.

Cash even went on to say in his autobiography that he was the first American to intercept transmissions reporting about Stalin’s death in 1953.

It was in Landsberg during his downtime that he wrote his songs. He even bought a guitar to practice them along with a ragtag band of airmen dubbed The Landsberg Barbarians.

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10 Outstanding Athletes Who Went On To Become War Heroes

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This is from ListVerse.

I know about numbers 10, 9, 7 and 4.

 

Today’s professional athletes are often viewed as overpaid and selfish, with recent sports headlines being dominated by scandals involving domestic abuse and performance-enhancing drugs. The people involved in these issues don’t represent the majority of athletes, however. Many outstanding athletes have even put their careers on hold and their lives at risk to serve in the military during times of war.

10 Louis Zamperini

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Zamperini, a runner who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, went on to serve in World War II. He went missing during the war after his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean and was assigned an “official death date” by the War Department, which included a letter of condolence sent by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The reality was that Zamperini survived 47 days at sea while floating on a raft, only to be captured and taken prisoner by the Japanese.

After surviving in the Pacific by collecting rainfall and catching the occasional albatross, Zamperini was subjected to cruel torture at the hands of Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a Japanese sergeant whose nickname was “The Bird.” His indomitable spirit may have been foreshadowed in his Olympic performance, where his closing lap in the 5,000 meters was recorded at just 56 seconds as he tried to run down his competition.

His story was immortalized in the book Unbroken, which has been adapted into a feature-length film directed by Angelina Jolie.

9 Warren Spahn

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Spahn was one half of the dominant pitching duo that inspired Gerald V. Herm to write the poem that was later shortened to the epigram, “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain.” The Baseball Hall of Famer is the all-time leader in wins among left-handers and sixth overall with 363 wins. Before beginning a baseball career that would include 17 All-Star Game appearances, two no-hitters and a Cy Young Award, Spahn served in the Army beginning in 1942.

Spahn saw a great deal of combat, serving in a unit that included convicts who had been released early from their sentences in exchange for enlisting. Spahn fought during both the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Hurtgen Forest. Of the latter battle, Spahn said, “We were surrounded in the Hurtgen Forest and had to fight our way out of there. Our feet were frozen when we went to sleep, and they were frozen when we woke up. We didn’t have a bath or change of clothes for weeks.”

Spahn’s unit earned recognition for taking and maintaining the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, the only bridge over the Rhine River taken by Allied Forces. In addition to the Distinguished Unit Emblem, Spahn also earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Some baseball historians believe that his service time may have prevented him from reaching 400 wins, but Spahn himself thought the war played an important role in shaping his career, saying, “I matured a lot in those years. If I had not had that maturity, I wouldn’t have pitched until I was 45 . . . after what I went through overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work. You get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy threatened territory.”

8 Bob Kalsu

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Photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Look up at the Ring of Honor at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Among the names of legendary Buffalo Bills is a man who never made it past his rookie year in the National Football League. That’s because Bob Kalsu, during a time in which many professional athletes were able to avoid the Vietnam War due to their high-profile careers, volunteered for active dutyand was called on to serve in one of the most dangerous and war-torn areas. Stationed at Firebase Ripcord, Kalsu was named the acting commander of his unit when his commanding officer had to be airlifted out to have shrapnel removed from his neck.

The North Vietnamese Army was determined to move Kalsu and his men from Ripcord, and the firebase was subjected to 600 rounds per day, the heaviest attacks coming when choppers landed to bring supplies. Despite his rank, Kalsu exposed himself to the heavy fire so he could assist his men in carrying the newly delivered shells to their position on the hill.

Philip Michaud, who was there with Kalsu at Ripcord, described him as “a fearless guy, smart, brave and respected by his troops.” Of the frequent NVA attacks, Michaud relayed the following about the acting commander: “Rounds were coming in, and he was out there. I told him a few times, ‘It’s good to run around and show what leadership is about, but when rounds are blowing up in your area, you ought to hunker down behind a gun wheel. Or a bunker.’ ”

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of the story has to do with Kalsu’s family life back home. After Kalsu died by enemy mortar fire, an Army officer was dispatched to his home to tell his wife of the incident. She was not there. The officer was directed to a local hospital, where he gave Jan Kalsu the news shortly after she had delivered the couple’s second child, a baby boy.

7 Archie Williams

Williams_Archie_01

 

Like fellow gold medalist Jesse Owens, Archie Williams threw a wrench into Adolf Hitler’s theory of Aryan dominance with his performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While the story of how Hitler refused to shake Owens’s hand after his victories is quite well known (in reality, he shook no athlete’s hand after the opening ceremonies, regardless of their race), Williams felt similarly snubbed. When asked about his exchange with the German Chancellor, Williams said, “Hitler wouldn’t shake my hand either!” Williams competed in the 400 meters, an event in which he had set the world record of 46.1 seconds earlier that year while competing for UC-Berkeley at the NCAA Championships.

Williams’s athletic career was cut short by a hamstring injury, so he earned his pilot’s license and became a commercial pilot. He later served as a pilot during World War II and was commissioned in the Air Force in 1943. Williams worked with the Tuskegee Airmen as a flight instructor and remained in the service for over 20 years.

6 Dwight F. Davis

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The Davis Cup is a tennis tradition that began back in 1900, when Dwight F. Davis and other members of the Harvard tennis team wished to arrange a match between the United States and Great Britain. The annual competition is likely Davis’s legacy, but the founder of the Davis Cup was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism in action between Baulny and Chaudron Farm, France, September 29–30, 1918.”

Davis’s citation relays his impressive feats during battle. “After exposure to severe shelling and machinegun fire for three days, during which time he displayed rare courage and devotion to duty, Major Davis, then adjutant, 69th Infantry Brigade, voluntarily and in the face of intense enemy machinegun and artillery fire proceeded to various points in his brigade sector, assisted in reorganizing positions, and in replacing units of the brigade, this self-imposed duty necessitating continued exposure to concentrated enemy fire.

“On September 28, 1918, learning that a strong counterattack had been launched by the enemy against Baulny ridge and was progressing successfully, he voluntarily organized such special duty men as could be found and with them rushed forward to reinforce the line under attack, exposing himself with such coolness and great courage that his conduct inspired the troops in this crisis and enabled them to hold on in the face of vastly superior numbers.”

Davis then went on to serve as President Calvin Coolidge’s Secretary of War and Governor General of the Philippines. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

5 Charley Paddock

Anyone who has seen the movie Chariots of Fire will remember Charley Paddock as the brash American who defeats Harold Abrahams by a wide margin in the 200 meters on his way to a silver medal at the 1924 Olympics. In reality, Paddock also won gold in the 100 meters and the 4×100 meter relay, along with another silver in the 200 meters in the 1920 Olympic Games. He held world records in several events throughout his career, earning recognition as the “World’s Fastest Human.”

His Olympic efforts were bookended by service in both World War I and World War II. Serving in the Marine Corps, Paddock was a lieutenant of field artillery during World War I and a member of the personal staff of Major General William P. Upshur during World War II. Both Paddock and Upshur died in a plane crash while serving during World War II.

4 Ted Williams

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Teddy Ballgame is remembered by most baseball fans as one of the greatest hitters to ever play. Over his career, Williams batted .344 while hitting 521 home runs. These numbers are all the more impressive considering that he lost several years of his playing career while serving in the Navy in two different wars: World War II and the Korean War.

He served as an instructor during World War II. During the Korean War he took enemy fire and was hit multiple times, even crash-landing during one of his missions. During his time as an enlisted man, Williams earned three Air Medals for Aerial Flight Operations, along with a Navy Unit commendation and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

During his time in Korea, Williams served as a wingman to another iconic figure: John Glenn. The two spoke fondly of one another. According to Glenn, Williams “was just great. The same skills that made him the best baseball hitter ever—the eye, the coordination, the discipline—are what he used to make himself an excellent combat pilot.”

3 Roy Gleason

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Photo credit: Mears Auctions

Gleason made it to the big leagues at just 20 years of age, being called up to play with the Los Angeles Dodgers toward the end of the 1963 season. Only up for a “cup of coffee,” Gleason earned a hit in his only at-bat that season, though he did appear in seven other games as a pinch runner. The Dodgers won the World Series that year, so Gleason earned a World Series ring for having been on the active roster during the season.

Gleason returned to the minors, blocked from the big leagues by a roster full of Dodgers legends. In 1967, he was called to active duty in Vietnam, where he served as a sergeant. While out on patrol, the North Vietnamese Army attacked the unit Gleason was leading, and Gleason was injured by shrapnel that had torn through his arm and leg. Gleason continued to fight despite his injuries, returning fire until his injuries forced an evacuation by helicopter.

Among the many things left behind in Vietnam because of the rapid evacuation was Gleason’s 1963 World Series Ring. The Dodgers replaced the ring Gleason lost in a ceremony at Dodger Stadium in 2003. Gleason was further awarded a Purple Heart and earned a Special Congressional Recognition for his service.

2 Chad Hennings

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A Dallas Cowboy who served during wartime, Hennings won the Outland Trophy as a collegian before joining the Cowboys for three Super Bowl titles over nine professional seasons. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Hennings was drafted by Dallas in 1988 but had to first serve four years in the military before he could begin his pro career.

Serving in the Persian Gulf, Hennings flew 45 missions over Iraq as a part of Operation Provide Comfort, earning two Air Force Achievement Medals, along with an Outstanding Unit Award and a humanitarian award. The operation in which Hennings participated was largely a humanitarian effort, providing aid to Kurds in Northern Iraq while also clearing any remaining Iraqi threats from the area.

After serving in the Persian Gulf, Hennings returned to professional football but continued his service in the Air Force. Hennings remained a member of the Air Force Reserve throughout all of his nine years in the NFL.

1 Chuck Bednarik

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Concrete Charlie is highly regarded among those who long for the days of the rugged football player who refuses to leave the field under any circumstance, known for his time with the Eagles. The NFL is now filled by highly specialized athletes excelling at a single position, but Bednarik was not one of those. He played on offense, on defense, and on special teams before special teams even had its own name. As his plaque in Canton, Ohio reads, Bednarik was a “bone-jarring tackler,” and if that’s not enough, he was also a “rugged, durable, bulldozing blocker.”

If anything served to harden Concrete Charlie, it was likely his service during World War II. A member of the Army Air Corps, Bednarik was just a teenager when he joined as an aerial gunner, flying 30 combat missions, all over Germany.

According to Bednarik, the most dangerous of those missions was a simple delivery. Bednarik was charged with delivering gasoline 16 kilometers (10 mi) behind enemy lines to refill 500 of General Patton’s tanks. Bednarik recalled the mission, saying, “We had no bombs in the bomb bay; we had nothing but gasoline—thousands of gallons of gasoline. Picture taking off or landing with a plane full of gasoline. If we had crashed, I would be dust. That mission scared the hell out of us. We went over and landed, and I could hear boom, boom, boom from where the fighting was going on. We dumped that gas and got the hell out of there real fast.”

For his service, Bednarik earned the Air Medal, four Oak Leaf Clusters, four Battle Stars, and the European Theater Operations Medal.

 

Random Thoughts

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This is by Dr.Thomas Sowell in Town Hall.

 

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

I don’t know why we are spending our hard-earned money paying taxes to support a criminal justice system, when issues of guilt and innocence are being determined on television — and even punishment is being meted out by CNN’s showing the home and address of the policeman accused in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting.

One of the big differences between Democrats and Republicans is that we at least know what the Democrats stand for, whether we agree with it or not. But, for Republicans, we have to guess.

It is amazing how many otherwise sane people want Israel to become the first nation in history to respond to military attacks by restricting what they do, so that it is “proportionate” to the damage inflicted by the attacks.

Amid all the things being said on all sides about the massive, illegal influx of children from countries in Central America, we have yet to hear some American parent saying, “I don’t owe it to anybody to have my child exposed to diseases brought into this country, no matter what problems exist in other countries!”

Two headlines in the August 10th New York Times speak volumes about Barack Obama. The top headline reads: “Iraq Strikes May Last Months, Obama Says.” A secondary headline reads: “No Ground Force Will Be Sent, He Repeats.” Time was when enemy spies had to risk their lives to acquire such information. Now all they have to do is read the headlines.

It is amazing how many people think they are doing blacks a favor by exempting them from standards that others are expected to meet.

If you want to know who was the greatest baseball player of all time, please check out the pitcher who led the American League with the lowest earned run average in 1916. He was the only ballplayer who could do it all, including stealing home.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was a hawk compared to Barack Obama. At least Chamberlain was building up his country’s military forces while trying to appease Hitler. Obama is cutting back on our military forces while our enemies around the world are expanding theirs.

Medical authorities who are trying to reassure us that safeguards will prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States may be unconvincing to those of us who remember how they lied about whether AIDS could be transmitted by blood transfusions. They may be telling the truth this time, but credibility is one of those things that are far easier to maintain than to repair.

Too many people in Washington are full of themselves, among other things that they are full of.

However common it may be in politics to “split the difference” when making decisions, it is unconscionable to send American troops into a war zone in numbers too small to defend themselves. The smug and smirking contempt of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, when he began testifying before a Congressional committee in the IRS scandal investigation, told us all we needed to know, even if we never get the information that was supposedly “lost” when Lois Lerner’s computer supposedly crashed.

Ted Williams’ great career was interrupted twice by military service — once during World War II and again when he returned to the Marine Corps during the Korean war. What sports star today would voluntarily interrupt a Hall of Fame career to go fight for America, after having already served in the military?

Despite TV pundits who say that public opinion polls show Barack Obama is in trouble, the president is not in the slightest trouble. He is doing whatever he feels like doing, regardless of the Constitution and regardless of how many people don’t like it, because he is virtually impeachment-proof. The country is in huge trouble and real danger because of his policies, but he is not.

One of the most frustrating aspects of watching television news programs that feature debates is the guests who sidestep any question that gets to the heart of the issue at hand, and just go off on a tangent, repeating their standard talking points. That’s usually a good time to change the channel or turn off the TV.

If politics were like sports, we could ask Israel to trade us Benjamin Netanyahu for Barack Obama. Of course, we would have to throw in trillions of dollars to get Israel to agree to the deal, but it would be money well spent.

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