Saturday, November 26, 2022
THE REAL STORY OF ED MCMAHON'S MILITARY SERVICE IN WWII

THE REAL STORY OF ED MCMAHON’S MILITARY SERVICE IN WWII

by Ricardo Walter

Ed McMahon may have spent decades on “The Tonight Show” as Johnny Carson’s sidekick, but he was far from a second-tier entertainer. McMahon was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame after his death, both for co-hosting with Carson and for his long career doing other things, like hosting “Star Search” and being the spokesperson for American Family Publishers sweepstakes.

McMahon, like many other men of his generation (he was born in 1923), served in the military as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot during World War II and again as a pilot during the Korean War. According to Military.com, one of the tools that helped him in both his television and earlier military careers was his voice: “His loud, booming voice was commanding and, as such, was tailor-made for a career in uniform.” He retired in 1966 after achieving the rank of colonel.

THE REAL STORY OF ED MCMAHON'S MILITARY SERVICE IN WWII

THE WAY WAS PAVED BY HIS VOICE.

In some ways, Ed McMahon’s childhood and adolescence prepared him for both military and television careers. His voice, according to The A.V. Club, was his ticket to whatever vocation he chose where it would be useful. He did make some money with his voice as a teenager and young man, working as a carnival barker and a bingo caller, among other things.

According to Military.com, McMahon was eager to join the service as a pilot even before World War II. Though there are several character traits that are required for a military career — physical fitness and respect for authority, for example — having a good voice is a plus because it aids in giving commands, instructing subordinates, and so on. McMahon’s booming, resonant voice became the centerpiece of his career as an entertainer and would serve him well as a Marine, according to the website. McMahon, in particular, would use his voice in his military career, as he spent most of it as a flight instructor. However, launching his military career would necessitate a specific set of circumstances.

EVERYTHING CHANGES IN PEARL HARBOR

THE REAL STORY OF ED MCMAHON'S MILITARY SERVICE IN WWII
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ed McMahon wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a Marine Corps fighter pilot after graduating from high school (via Military.com). But at the time, if you wanted to be a fighter pilot in the Marines, you had to have finished two years of college before you could go to flight school. So McMahon went to Boston College, probably with the plan to join the Marines when he finished his credits.

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Of course, the events of December 7, 1941—”a date that will live in infamy,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it—caused all branches of the military to reconsider their recruitment standards, given the immediate and pressing need for warm bodies in various roles. McMahon joined the Marines after the college requirements for fighter pilots were dropped, and he was stationed in Dallas for flight training and later in Pensacola. However, this is where his voice would come in: he was promoted to instructor during flight school, “a role in which his ability to project came in handy,” according to Military.com.

WORLD WAR II SERVICE BY MCMAHON’S

THE REAL STORY OF ED MCMAHON'S MILITARY SERVICE IN WWII

Military.com and the Department of Defense provide slightly different accounts of Ed McMahon’s World War II service. For example, the second source says that the Marines no longer required pilots to have gone to college after Pearl Harbor, while the first source says that McMahon didn’t get his wings and officer’s commission until 1944, which was two years after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Regardless, it’s certain that McMahon spent the majority of his WWII service as a flight instructor rather than a combat pilot. He was, however, given orders to report to the Pacific fleet for combat at some point in 1945. According to Military.com, McMahon never saw battle because the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the war before he flew a single mission.

In a fascinating piece of television history, the man who would play second fiddle to McMahon for the rest of his decades-long career, Johnny Carson, also served in WWII. However, the two men were in separate units (Carson was in the Navy) and were almost certainly never seen together during the war.

MCMAHON’S SERVICE IN KOREA AND VIETNAM

THE REAL STORY OF ED MCMAHON'S MILITARY SERVICE IN WWII
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ed McMahon, like tens of thousands of other servicemen and women, re-entered civilian life after WWII ended, though he remained in the Marine Corps Reserve (via the Department of Defense) during this time. He returned to college, this time at the Catholic University of America, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1949 (per Archdiocese of Baltimore).

He agreed to be called back into service at any time by remaining in the Marine Corps Reserve. McMahon was recalled to service when the Korean War broke out in the early 1960s. According to Military.com, he actually flew missions in a combat zone this time. He flew Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs on bomber surveillance missions in particular. During the war, he flew 85 missions and received six medals for his efforts.

When the United States entered the Vietnam War in 1966, McMahon retired. Despite the fact that he was in the service for at least part of the conflict, he was never actually deployed. As a result, McMahon served in three wars, according to the Department of Defense.

When the United States entered the Vietnam War in 1966, McMahon retired. Despite the fact that he was in the service for at least part of the conflict, he was never actually deployed. As a result, McMahon served in three wars, according to the Department of Defense.

Source : Grunge | Daily beast

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