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Celebrity Veterans

Before you knew them as actors, musicians, politicians and important personalities, these brave men and women served their respective countries in both times of war and times of peace. This page serves as nothing more than a way to honor that legacy of commitment and service.

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Entries in Writers (4)


Edgar Allan Poe, US Army - 1827-1829

Edgar Allan Poe
(AKA - Edgar Allan Perry)
b. 1809 – d.
US Army, 1827-1829 

On May 26, 1827,  already a published poet ,and finding himself in serious debt and poverty,  Edgar Allan Poe, enlisted in the United States Army as Edgar A. Perry at the age of 18, lying on the application stating that he was 22. Poe must have been an exemplary soldier for he was promoted sergeant-major on the 1st of January 1829. 

In 1830, after serving two years, he applied to West Point Military Academy with the support of his commanding officer and foster father. He was court martialed out of school after only eight months in January 1831 for missing drills, parades, classes and church.  Although his time was short, his legend was long-lasting. 

Professor Bill Hecker had stated that there had been an Edgar Allan Poe Society at the Academy until just before the Second World War. After the War, the dedication of time and energy to the Society had been diverted to other, more pressing activities of the staff and Corps of Cadets. Those with access to the Library Archives will find materials on this subject in Poe's "Vertical File."

Hecker was killed in Iraq in 2006, but had completed a compilation of Poe’s poems that were written during his time at West Point. Private Perry and Mister Poe: The West Point Poems, 1831 is available at Amazon.

Source  Painting Source:  Edgar Perry, Sergeant Major, Fort Monroe, Virginia, is courtesy of Mr. Paul Morando, Archives Director, of the Casemate Museum, Fort Monroe, Virginia


Larry Flynt, US Army & US Navy, 1958-1964

Larry Flynt
(Larry Claxton Flynt, Jr.)
b. 1 Nov 1942 – d.
US Army, 1958 US Navy, 1960-1964

Seems Larry Flynt, son of a WWII veteran, was never one for following rules yet always one for championing his personal sense of right and wrong. At the age of 15, he used a false birth certificate to enlist in the US Army. After spending a year amongst the ranks, he was discharged due to low test scores. When Flynt enlisted in the United States Navy in July 1960, he was the only sailor at his Great Lakes boot camp with any prior service.

During boot camp, Flynt served as a Master-at-Arms for his company. He went on to attend Radar “A” school and finished as the youngest 2nd class Petty Officer in the Navy at the time. He was then sent on to Officer’s CIC school in Brunswich, GA. In 1962 , Flynt became a radar operator on the USS Enterprise. He was the operator on duty when the ship was assigned to recover John Glenn's space capsule.

For such a free thinker, Larry surprisingly excelled within the disciplinary construct of the military. In his book, Naked Ambition, Flynt assuredly recalls his stellar performance,

“I was the absolute best at what I did. I set an example for the men who worked for me, and I made sure that I knew each and every one of their jobs better than they knew it themselves.”

He was honorably discharged in July 1964.



Leon Uris, US Marines 1942-1946

On patrol in the Negerev Desert during research for his book, ExodusLeon Uris (writer)
(Leon Marcus Uris)
b. 1924 – d. 2003
US Marines 1942-1946
(Field Radio Operator, Guadalcanal, Tarawa) 

During his senior year of high school in 1942, Leon dropped out of school to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. His MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was that of field radio operator. Following a period stationed in New Zealand, Uris served in combat on Guadalcanal and Tarawa as a radio operator, all experiences that would play a key role in his subsequent career. Later on, he became sick with malaria and was transferred back to the United States, to serve out the remainder of the war. Leon was finally discharged in 1946.

Drawing on his experiences in Guadalcanal and Tarawa he began a prolific career as a writer covering topics inspired by war and it’s atrocities. His first work, Battle Cry, a novel depicting the toughness and courage of U.S. Marines in the Pacific. He then went to write the movie, which was extremely popular with the American public. In 1955, Uris wrote The Angry Hills, dealing with the British campaign in Greece during World War II and based on the diary of an uncle of his who had been a member of the Palestine Brigade.

In 1956 Uris covered the Arab-Israeli fighting as a war correspondent. Two years later appeared Exodus, published by Doubleday & Company. The idea for the book evolved out of a conversation with the author and Malcolm Stuart, his agent.
Exodus, a novel chronicling Palestine from the 19th century through it’s transition into the state of Israel post WWII,  became an international publishing phenomenon, the biggest bestseller in the United States since Gone with the Wind.

He wrote three more novels based on his wartime experiences: 

  • Mila 18, about a Warsaw wartime ghetto
  • Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin which reveals the detailed work by British and American intelligence services in planning for the occupation and pacification of post WWII Germany.
  • QBVII about a Polish doctor in a German concentration camp.



Alex Haley - US Coast Guard 1939-1959

Alex Haley (Writer)
(Alexander Palmer Murray Haley)
b. 11 Aug 1921 - d. 10 Feb 1992
US Coast Guard, 1939-1959
(World War II, Korean War, Chief Petty Officer, Chief Journalist) 

After dropping out of college, Simon Haley, Alex's father, felt that Alex needed discipline and growth and convinced Alex to enlist in the military. On May 24, 1939, Alex Haley began his twenty-year enlistment with the Coast Guard. He enlisted as a mess attendant and became a Petty Officer Third Class in the rate of Steward, one of the few rates open to African Americans. He spent World War II in the Pacific theater although he did not see much action during the conflict.

After World War II, Haley petitioned the Coast Guard to transfer into the field of journalism, and by 1949 he had become a Petty Officer First Class in the rating of Journalist. He later advanced to Chief Petty Officer and held this grade until his retirement from the Coast Guard in 1959. He was the first Chief Journalist in the Coast Guard, the rating having been expressly created for him in recognition of his literary ability.

Haley's awards and decorations from the Coast Guard include the American Defense Service Medal (with "Sea" clasp),American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal (with 1 silver and 1 bronze service star), Korean Service Medal,National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Expert Marksmanship Medal.

During his World War II service in the Pacific theater, Haley taught himself the craft of writing stories and he obviously had a talent for it. Rumor has it he was often paid by other sailors to write love letters to their girlfriends. He talked of how the greatest enemy he and his crew faced during their long sea voyages wasn't the Japanese but boredom.