Friday, September 28, 2007

"Coastie Dad" knows his military history

Or perhaps Coastie Dad knows his pop history.

Whatever the case, Coastie Dad is correct that both Glenn Miller and Gene Autry served in the military. As a matter of fact, both Mr. Miller and Mr. Autry served in the Army Air Force during the Second World War. Gene Autry actually enlisted on the air during his weekly radio show. I heard this show (rebroadcast, of course) several weeks ago; at first, I thought it was a gimick. But it wasn't. Mr. Autry enlisted as a Technical Sergeant on July 26, 1942, during his show "Melody Ranch." Later, he was was commissioned as a pilot. He flew, I believe, transport planes in the Pacific Theatre.

One website notes,
In 1942, against the opposition of his studio and facing the loss of a civilian income in the range of $600,000 a year, the 35 year old Autry enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
The official Gene Autry website states that Mr. Autry,
volunteered his talents as an entertainer for numerous Air Force shows. His weekly radio show Melody Ranch was cut down from its usual half-hour to fifteen minutes and renamed Sergeant Gene Autry.

Gene willingly helped at war bond rallies and recruiting drives, lending his time and talents wherever and whenever it was needed.

At the end of the war, Gene transferred to Special Services at which point he took a USO troupe to the South Pacific. He was honorably discharged from the service in 1946.
I believe I read somewhere that many of the other members of his radio show also enlisted, although perhaps that was just a dream of mine during a recent fitful night's sleep.

Gene Autry and Glenn Miller were not alone in serving in uniform. Many other "stars" also served, and many of them saw combat.

Aside from Pat Tillman, I can't think of any other athletes or entertainers who have joined the military during this latest conflict.

Coastie Dad noted in the comment below,
Of course they (and Jimmy Stewart, Ted Williams, etc) served, (although the "great communicator" took a pass and made propaganda films in Pasadena) it was a just war. When does Toby Keith report to Paris Island?
Indeed, when?

In his essay, Today’s Troops Follow in Footsteps of Earlier Generations of Heroes, published this past July, Air Force Technical Sergeant Kevin Wallace wrote,
America’s security has always rested on the backs of men and women willing to sacrifice whatever necessary to defend it.
Perhaps those who are willing to sacrifice today are those who don't have much to start with; they see the military as a way-out of where they are. Those who have much, the Glenn Millers, Gene Autrys, and Jimmy Stewards of today are not willing to sacrifice.

I also think it speaks volumes about public perceptions of the current conflict. Talk is one thing; action is another. Our movie stars and popular musicians and professional athletes are not willing to give up what they have in order to sacrifice.

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