6. US Army Special Services led to imitations in the other service branches
In July 1940, the US War Department created a new branch in the United States Army, with its own Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) for the servicemen assigned. Special Services was tasked specifically with the entertainment of fellow soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Many of the celebrities who entered the military during the war; actors, singers, musicians, athletes, comedians, acrobats, and others were assigned roles in Special Services. The Services also hired local entertainers to supplement their programs. The US Army created a new school to train Special Service officers in their role in the war effort. It opened at Fort Meade, Maryland, in 1942. Graduates of the training program were designated as Recreational Officers. Enlisted men obtained job specialties which included Crafts Specialist and Entertainment Specialist, among others.
The famed band leader Glenn Miller served in the Special Services. So did Werner Klemperer, who later gained fame portraying Luftwaffe Colonel Wilhelm Klink on the television sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. One of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the 1930s, Mickey Rooney served with distinction in Special Services, earning the Bronze Star for his many appearances before the troops in active combat areas over the course of the war. Another enlisted man who earned the designation of Entertainment Specialist (fifth grade) was actor Burt Lancaster, who served most of his overseas time in the Fifth Army as it slugged its way up the Italian boot in 1943-1945. And famed, Russian-born director Anatole Litvak joined with Hollywood’s Frank Capra to produce the film series, Why We Fight. Litvak received decorations from American, British, and Soviet authorities for his contributions to the war effort.