So, Freedies, remember that military rep in uniform who spoke in chapel yesterday? Not the one who talked about killing someone. The other one. The one who told us that actors Lee Marvin and Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) served together in Iwo Jima, and that Marvin was awarded the Navy Cross. The one who also stated that Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was a former soldier with more than 25 kills registered to his name.
Okay. Not true. Next time, the speaker should probably not get this material from the latest chain email in his inbox. The timing was rather awful, considering the serious circumstances.
From Snopes, the authority on fact-checking urban myths:
Not only did Fred Rogers never serve in the military, there are no gaps in his career when he could have conceivably served in the military - he went straight into college after high school, he moved directly into TV work after graduating college, and his breaks from television work were devoted to attending the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963) and the University of Pittsburg’s Graduate School of Child Development. Moreover, Fred Rogers was born in 1928, and was therefore too old to have enlisted in the armed services by the time of America’s military involvement in Vietnam… Fred Rogers never served in the military, and he bore no tattoos on his arms (or any other part of his body). He wore long-sleeved shirts and sweaters on his show to maintain an air of formality. Although he was friendly with the children in his viewing audience and talked to them on their own level, he was most definitely an authority figure on par with parents and teachers (he was Mister Rogers to them, after all, not Fred), and his choice of dress was intended to establish and foster that relationship.
From the same source, concerning Lee Marvin and Bob Keeshan:
Lee Marvin did enlist in the U.S. Marines, saw action as Private First Class in the Pacific during World War II, and was wounded (in the buttocks) by fire which severed his sciatic nerve. However, this injury occurred during the battle for Saipan in June 1944, not the battle for Iwo Jima, which took place several months later, in February 1945. Marvin also did receive a Purple Heart, and he is indeed buried at Arlington National Cemetery (but he was not, as some versions of this piece claim, awarded a Navy Cross).
Bob Keeshan, later famous as television’s “Captain Kangaroo,” also enlisted in the U.S. Marines, but too late to see any action during World War II… A 1997 interview with Keeshan noted that he “later enlisted in the U.S. Marines but saw no combat” because, as Keeshan said, he signed up “just before we dropped the atom bomb.”
Someone needs to be a bit more responsible.