Newt's John Wayne Site

The Duke and the Military

Contributed by Austin Rockwell Taylor

Austin is the founder and Sheriff of McCandles, Texas a Yahoo! Group dedicated to John Wayne. Austin ran this article by the late Michael Wayne for his approval, so it must be gospel. If you are a true Duke fan check out the group and join in.

There are many stories about why the Duke didn't enter the service during World War II. I am not saying this one is any more true then any other. But I feel he served his nation in his own way the best he could. My grandfather was in the same boat as Wayne but his "war necessary" work for Dodge and 4 kids kept him out of service until late in the war. But he was just as proud of the work he did for Dodge as he was storming the beach in the Philippines. I believe the Duke and America were proud of what John Wayne did for his country!

When the Duke was a young man he wanted to attend Annapolis (the Navy Military Academy) but was unable to win an appointment from his state's Senator. When he was awarded a scholarship to the University of Southern California he went there to play football. The Duke was 34 when World War II started and the father of 4 children so he was exempted from the draft. If he was to volunteer his medical examination showed that he would have needed to seek a wavier for his bad shoulder something that was not being granted until much later in the war and never for combat troops. The Duke's bosses at Republic Pictures also convinced him that he would be needed on the home front to fight the battle of morale and he won that battle.

There were those (the director John Ford for one) who criticized the Duke for not pushing for a medical wavier, but consider this fact. When Marine Corps recruiting was critically down following World War II the Marine Corps Commandant personally asked John Wayne to make "Sands of Iwo Jima" (1949). Recruitment went through the roof and he received a personal thank you from the Commandant and a special citation of merit. Later his support of the Korean and Vietnam soldiers (visiting them in the field and in the hospital) is legendary. Most of Hollywood's elite believed he ruined his career by supporting the Vietnam War and making the "The Green Berets" (1968) but he never hid his desire to support his nation and those who served it. He was even at the homecoming for the Vietnam POW and met the man whose name he had on his POW bracelet. John Wayne was a man who understood what being a soldier was all about. He understood love of country, devotion to duty and sacrifice. Sure maybe he never served but he never brought shame to any uniform he put on. Thanks Duke!

See you along the trail,


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