Lee Marvin Rumors – USMC

Fred Rogers, Lee Marvin and Bob Keeshan
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Lee Marvin Rumors

For many years now (starting sometime in 2008), there have been emails floating around spreading the urban legend that Lee Marvin has won many USMC metals including the Navy Cross.

Captain Kangaroo passed away on January 23, 2004, at age 76, which is odd, because he always looked to be 76. (DOB: 6/27/27 ) His death reminded me of the following story.

Some people have been a bit offended that the actor, Lee Marvin, is buried in a grave alongside 3 and 4-star generals at Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT), and service (USMC). Nothing else. Here’s a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time, why the heck does he rate burial with these guys? Well, the following is the amazing answer:

I always liked Lee Marvin but didn’t know the extent of his Corps experiences.

In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces often in rear echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions.

Lee Marvin was a genuine hero. He won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award… the Medal Of Honor.

If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery.

Dialog from “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”: His guest was Lee Marvin Johnny said, “Lee, I’ll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima ..and that during the course of that action, you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded.”

“Yeah, yeah… I got shot square in the bottom and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi. The bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys getting shot and hauling you down. But Johnny, at Iwo I served under the bravest man I ever knew… We both got the cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison. That dumb guy actually stood up on Red Beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. Bullets flew by, with mortar rounds landing everywhere and he stood there as the main target of gunfire so that he could get his men to safety. He did this on more than one occasion because his men’s safety was more important than his own life.

That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me, lying on my belly on the litter, and said, where’d they get you, Lee?’ Well Bob.. if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse!”

Johnny, I’m not lying, Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew.

The Sergeant’s name is Bob Keeshan. You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo.”

On another note, there was this wimpy little man (who just passed away) on PBS, gentle and quiet. Mr. Rogers is another of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth.

But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat-proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long-sleeved sweater on TV, to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps.  He was a master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat.

After the war, Mr. Rogers became an ordained Presbyterian minister and therefore a pacifist. Vowing to never harm another human and also dedicating the rest of his life to trying to help lead children on the right path in life. He hid away the tattoos and his past life and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm.

America’s real heroes don’t flaunt what they did; they quietly go about their day-to-day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy.

Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst.

Often, they are the ones you’d least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happened.

Take the time to thank anyone that has fought for our freedom. With encouragement, they could be the next Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers.

Send this on will you please? Nothing will happen to you if you don’t, but it will tell what a “real” HERO is made of.

Fred Rogers
Mr. Fred Rogers - "Where is Thumbkin"

Wow, that was a lot of information and sadly, almost every damn bit of it is false.

Lee Marvin was indeed a PFC in the Marine Corps, and he did see combat as a scout sniper with “I” Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division. He participated in invasions at Kwajalein (February 1944) and Eniwetok (February 1944) and Saipan-Tinian (June 1944) but was never on Iwo Jima (February 1945). Marvin actually participated in 21 Japanese Island landings. He did not receive a Navy Cross, but he was awarded a Purple Heart. He was not wounded on Iwo Jima, but he was actually wounded (in the buttocks) at Saipan on Mount Tapochau. He spent 13 months in Naval hospitals (the bullet severed his sciatic nerve), before being medically discharged as a PFC.

The entire conversation with Johnny Carson, never took place, though some claim to have watched it on TV, it is not in any archive, either video, audio, or text. Tom Hanks is one that claimed that he saw the interview on TV.

Robert James “Bob” Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), was still in high school in 1945, enlisting in the Marine Corps shortly after he turned 18. The war ended before Bob was ever sent overseas, and after the war he moved over to the Marine Corps Reserves (1946-1949), getting out as a PFC.

Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) was never in the military (thus he was never a Navy SEAL), he was classified as “unfit for military service” in the 50’s.

Lee Marvin did receive a Purple Heart for his wounds in Saipan and he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Lee Marvin on Training For War Movies in The Marines | The Dick Cavett Show
Lee Marvin: Actor, WWII Combat Veteran Speaks on Combat
Bob Keeshan is Not the Military Hero You Thought He Was
Lee Marvin interview with Terry Wogan - January 1984
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Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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