|Bob Crane (Colonel Hogan), Ivan Dixon (Sergeant Kinchloe), and Larry Hovis (Sergeant Carter)|
on Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971).
When we think of Memorial Day weekend in America, we often associate the holiday with barbeques, trips to the beach or the mountains, an extra day off from work, and the kick off to the summer season. However, we are reminded that this holiday means more than just hot dogs and burgers and cold drinks. This is a time for remembrance of our veterans ~ those who served our country and who either died in battle or have passed on. This day should also extend to our living veterans, who have served our country so that we may know freedom from oppression and be able to live in a peaceful democracy.
Bob Crane grew up during the World War II years, graduating from high school in June 1946. He knew a great many friends and classmates, and even family members, who were called off to fight in the war. Bob himself came close to serving in the war. They were preparing his class to graduate early in 1945 and were "toughening them up" during gym class for the harsh conditions they would experience during battle. Fortunately for Bob and the Class of 1946, the war ended before their class was called up to serve. Following graduation, Bob joined the U.S. National Guard in Connecticut, where he served for three years.
Bob's older brother, Al, however, did serve in the Navy during World War II. He was stationed on the U.S.S. Bunker Hill in the Pacific Theater of War. The Bunker Hill saw a great deal of action. On the morning of May 11, 1945, two Kamikaze planes crashed into the ship, severely crippling her. Many who were serving on the Bunker Hill died or were badly wounded that day, and the Cranes did not know for several weeks if Al had survived. When the word finally came that he was alive, according to Bob's best friend from school, "It was like Christmas." Al Crane is now honored for his service in the United States World War II National Registry. Throughout his life, Bob was always hugely supportive of all U.S. troops, and he volunteered his time regularly with organizations such as Operation Entertainment and the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network.
|John Banner, later Sgt. Schultz on Hogan's Heroes, was the|
official "poster boy" for the United States Army
during World War II ~ 1942.
When Bob worked on Hogan's Heroes, his co-stars provided a rich tapestry of their own experiences of service and survival. Robert Clary, who is Jewish, spent two years in a concentration camp and lost many of his family during the Holocaust. John Banner (Sergeant Schultz), also Jewish, left his home in Austria and came to the United States, where he served in the U.S. Army. In 1942, he was the U.S. Army's official "poster boy" for World War II, his strong physique speaking to America's young men to prove that they, too, could be that brave, fighting soldier. Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink), of Jewish descent, escaped Nazi Germany with his family in 1933 and came to America in 1935. He served in the U.S. Army for three and a half years in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He achieved the rank of Technician Fifth Grade (T-5). Howard Caine, also Jewish, who had portrayed Gestapo Major Hochstetter on Hogan's Heroes, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and fought the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.
This year, while you are at your picnics and taking your mini-vacations, certainly enjoy the time spent with your family and friends. You are able to do so because of the brave service men and women who have given and continue to give of themselves, and who sometimes pay the ultimate price for our freedom. Take a few minutes and remember them ~ all of them ~ who have served in any war or conflict in which America has engaged, and especially those who gave their lives in battle so that we may be free.