40 Insights into the Lives of Famous War Veterans
40 Insights into the Lives of Famous War Veterans

40 Insights into the Lives of Famous War Veterans

Khalid Elhassan - July 13, 2019

40 Insights into the Lives of Famous War Veterans
Johnny Carson. Military dot com

3. Johnny Carson joined the war just in time to scrape up dead bodies from his ship

Johnny Carson was en route to the combat zone in August of 1945 when the war ended. He saw no combat, but did its aftermath: the Pennsylvania had been torpedoed two days before he joined the ship. The damaged vessel sailed to Guam for repairs, and as the newest and most junior officer, Carson was tasked with the removal of 20 dead sailors. Reminiscing about his naval experience, Carson thought that the highlight of his naval career was performing a card trick for James Forrestal, the notoriously cantankerous Secretary of the Navy. Forrestal was amused, and the realization that he could entertain somebody so crabby was a major boost to Carson’s self confidence.

40 Insights into the Lives of Famous War Veterans
Josephine Baker. Direct Expose

2. Josephine Baker was a French Resistance Heroine

Josephine Baker, AKA the “Creole Goddess”, “Black Pearl”, and “Bronze Venus”, was recruited by French military intelligence when WWII began. In the 1930s, she had voiced support for Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, so when the Axis overran Franc in 1940, they assumed she was sympathetic to their cause. They were mistaken. Taking advantage of the occupiers’ trust, Baker exploited her fame to charm Axis officials at social gatherings to collect information. As an international entertainer, she had an excuse to travel, and she did, smuggling coded messages, written in invisible ink on her music sheets, between the French Resistance and the Allies.

40 Insights into the Lives of Famous War Veterans
Josephine Baker sporting her war medals during the 1963 March on Washington. Washington Post

1. Josephine Baker earned a military funeral for her WWII exploits

Josephine Baker also hid fugitives in her home, supplying them with fake IDs and visas. Later in the war, she joined the French Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, in which she was commissioned as a lieutenant, and also performed for Allied troops. In recognition of her wartime exploits and contributions to France, she was named a Chevalier of the Legion d’honeur by Charles de Gaulle, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medal of Resistance with Rosette. Upon her death in 1975, Baker became the first American woman buried with military honors in France, including a gun salute.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Alter Net, December 28th, 2018 – Josephine Baker‘s Secret Life as a WWII Spy

Bronx Pinstripes – On This Day in History: Yogi Berra Takes Part in D-Day

Cooper Toons – Did George Washington Really Tell Henry Knox to ‘Shift That Fat Ass’?

Defense Media Network – Actor Clark Gable Served in Uniform, Flew Combat Missions in WWII

Encyclopedia Britannica – David Niven

History Net – Mr. Stewart Goes to War

Military Dot Com – Famous Veterans: Ernest Borgnine

Military Dot Com – Famous Veterans: Johnny Carson

Ranker – The Most Beloved US Veterans

Reel Rundown – Kirk Douglas: 9 Amazing Things About Hollywood‘s Favorite ‘Spartacus’

Smithsonian Magazine, March 22nd, 2017 – The Mime Who Saved Kids From the Holocaust

Smoking Gun – Lenny Bruce‘s Gay Naval Ruse

Task Force Baum – The Hammelburg Raid

Vintage News – More Than 30 Years Before ‘Star Wars’, Sir Alec Guinness Was a WWII Landing Craft Hero

We Are the Mighty – Patton Once Sent 300 Men to Rescue His Son-in-Law From a Nazi Prison

Wikipedia – Lee Marvin

Wikipedia – Yogi Berra

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