You know you are doing something right with a hobby like mine here when your wife brings items like this to your attention as being "blog worthy". Thanks Honey.
James Arness, a Purple Heart Recipient of the Anzio Campaign in WWII died today at the age of 88, joining the ever growing ranks of deceased veterans of that campaign. Assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, Arness also was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge.
The 3rd Infantry participated in every major theater of conflict in the African and European theaters during the war and not only spent more days in combat in WW2 than any other division, but also suffer the highest casualty count with 4,922 KIA, 18,766 WIA (Arness among them) and another 636 dying from wounds received in battle. Recounting his experiences in a letter posted by his family on his blog site shortly after his death he recounted about his service and wounds:
"I was honored to have served in the army for my country. I was at Anzio during WWII and it makes you realize how very precious life is,"
He was wounded shortly after the initial landings on the Anzio beach head but recovered enough from his wounds to pursue a career after the war. His wounds did provide some hindrance later in his life and eventually lead to some acute pain in his waining years.
Oh yeah, he did some acting too....
Best known as the iconic Marshall Matt Dillon on the TV show "Gunsmoke" from 1955 - 1975. Beginning in what may call the "golden age of television" Arness' 6 foot and 7 inch frame literally made him the biggest star on TV at the time as well as being a major force behind the emergence of the Western as a mainstay of early TV shows. He was so tall, in fact, that in many close shots the other actors around him often stood on platforms in the scene out of frame in order to make the selection of the shot easier on the cameraman.
A close friend of John Wayne, who turned down the role of Marshall Dillon due to the "newfangledness" of TV (take note all that scoff at internet series), Arness generally did not embrace publicity as much as the Duke and lead a relatively low key life by Hollywood standards. His brother Peter Graves was another well known TV actor of his day and he had one son, Rolf, go onto becoming a world champion surfer and another son, Craig, to be a award winning photographer for National Geographic. All in all not a bad way to end up for a GI that caught some Nazi lead 67 years ago.
Rest in peace James Arness, I salute your service to our country and thank you for the years of entrainment you provided us.