Many famous Americans answered the call to serve during World War II, either through active duty or through homefront efforts. This list remembers famous Americans who were killed while serving their country in one fashion or another during the Second World War.
1. Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller was an American bandleader and musician. He volunteered for military service during World War II to help lead what hoped would be a more modernized military band. He became a Major in the Army Air Force and led the Army Air Force Band. He and his 50-piece band played across England. On December 15, 1944, Miller was set to fly across the English Channel to play for Allied soldiers in Paris. However, his plane disappeared somewhere over the English Channel and he is still listed as missing in action. Numerous theories have been put forward to how he died, the most common of which is he was killed by 'friendly fire'. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery
2. Jack Lummus
Jack Lummus was a professional football player who played for the New York Giants
. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1942. He quickly rose through the ranks. He was part of the taking of Iwo Jima
and died while spearheading an assault leading Company E's third rifle platoon. Sadly, he stepped on a land mine, lost both legs, and then died due to internal injuries.
3. Foy Draper
Foy Draper was part of the gold medal relay team along with Jesse Owens
at the 1936 Summer Olympics. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940. He then joined the 97th Squadron of the 47th Bomb Group at Thelepte, Tunisia. On January 4, 1943, Draper flew off on a mission to strike German and Italian ground forces in Tunisia. He and his crewmates never returned, shot down by enemy aircraft. He is buried in the American cemetery in Tunisia. Learn more about Foy Draper with this article by one of his relatives: Fast as Foy Draper
4. Elmer GedeonElmer Gedeon played professional baseball for the Washington Senators. In 1941, he was drafted by the Army. He served as a bomber and his B-26 Bomber was shot down over France in April, 1944.
5. Harry O'NeillHarry O'Neill was a professional baseball player for the Philadelphia Athletics, although he only played in one professional ball game in 1939. He then continued to play semi-professional ball until he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. He became a first lieutenant and lost his life due to sniper fire during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
6. Al BlozisAl Blozis was a professional football player who played defensive tackle for the New York Giants. He enlisted in the Army in 1943. In January 1945, he died while trying to search for two men from his unit who had not returned from scouting enemy lines in the Vosges Mountains of France.
7. Carole LombardCarole Lombard was an American comedic actress who never served in the military. However, her death was connected to World War II because she died in a plane crash while returning home from a War Bond rally in Indiana. In January, 1944, the Liberty ship, a cargo ship built during the war, was named the SS Carole Lombard in her honor.
8. Charles PaddockCharles Paddock was an Olympic runner who who won two gold and one silver medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics and one silver medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics. He served as a Marine during World War I and was an aide during World War II to Major General William P. Upshur. They along with four other crewmen died in a plane crash near Sitka, Alaska on July 21, 1943.
9. Leonard SupulskiLeonard Supulski was a professional football player who played for the Philadelphia Eagles. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He trained as a pilot. He along with seven other airmen died on August 31, 1943 during a routine B-17 training mission near Kearney, Nebraska.
10. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr, is famous due to his family connections. His father was a well known businessman and Ambassador. His brother, John F. Kennedy, would become the 35th president of the United States. He became a naval aviator in 1942. He was due to return home after completing missions in England between 1942 and 1944. However, he volunteered to be part of Operation Aphrodite. On July 23, 1944, Kennedy was to bail out of a plane full of explosives that would then be remote detonated. However, the explosives on board the plane detonated before he and his co-pilot bailed out.
11. Robert "Bobby" HutchinsBobby Hutchins was a child actor who played "Wheezer" in the "Our Gang" movies. He joined the US Army in 1943. He died on May 17, 1945 in a mid-air collision during a training exercise at Merced Army Airfield Base in California.
12. Ernie PyleErnie Pyle was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who became a war correspondent during World War II. He died of sniper fire on April 18, 1945 while reporting on the invasion of Okinawa. He was one of only a few civilians who were killed during World War II that were awarded a Purple Heart.