Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cowboy Heroes and Real-life Heroes

When writing Westerns, Western Romance, or Historical Romance, we authors try to make our cowboy heroes larger than life. Handsome, rugged, polite, but with a backbone of steel, and riding tall in the saddle, he's the man of every woman's dream. I thought it interesting that many of our on-screen cowboy heroes were/are real life heroes who served our country valiantly in the United States Military.

Gene Autry - Flight Officer, Air Transport Command, 1942-1946

James Arness - US Army, Wounded at Anzio. Purple Heart and Bronze Star

Ernest Borgnine - served in the U.S. Navy for twelve years, joining before WWII.

Kirk Douglas - US Navy

Henry Fonda - US Navy. Bronze Star for Valor.

Glenn Ford - US Navy. In addition to his WWII service, he served in the reserves during the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. He retired as a Captain in the US Naval Reserve.

Clark Gable - Captain, US Army Air Corps. Although beyond draft age, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the Air Corps on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended Officers' Candidate School at Miami Beach and graduated as a second lieutenant. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943, on personal orders from Gen. Arnold, went to England to make a motion picture of aerial gunners in action. He was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook and although neither ordered nor expected to do so, flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s to obtain the combat film footage he believed was required for producing the movie entitled "Combat America." Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a Major on June 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over age for combat.

Brian Keith - USMC, Aerial gunner

Burt Lancaster - US Army

Steve McQueen -USMC

Audie Murphy - US Army, most decorated soldier of WWII

Jack Palance -US Army Air Corps. 455th bomb group. Required facial reconstruction from terrible injuries received in 1943 when his B17 crash landed in Britain.

Ronald Reagan - Captain, US Army Air Corps. Because of a severe hearing loss, he was not allowed any flying duties. However, he appeared in training films. Prior to the war, he was a cavalry officer in the Nebraska National Guard.

Jimmy Stewart - US Army Air Corps even after his an active role in the military, Stewart continued to be active in the United States Air Force Reserve, achieving the rank of Brigadier General on July 23, 1959.

Clint Eastwood - served in the United States Army in 1951

James Garner - he joined the National Guard serving seven months in the USA. He then went to Korea for 14 months in the United States Army, serving in the 24th Infantry Division in the Korean War. He was wounded twice, first in the face and hand from shrapnel fire from a mortar round and second in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dove headfirst into a foxhole on April 23, 1951. Garner was awarded the Purple Heart in Korea for the first injury. For the second wound, he received a second Purple Heart.

Many of these super-hero stars have gone on to meet their maker. Yet, no matter how large or small, each has left an impression on those who watched them on the big screen and in television reruns.

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1 comment:

Paty Jager said...

Interesting information, Loretta. It make sense that men who were in westerns had the hero instinct by being in the military.