I've posted this photograph and quote by Bob Crane before, but in honor of Memorial Day weekend, I'm sharing it again.
Bob Crane was a huge supporter of U.S. Armed Forces and veterans, describing himself as a proud American. He appreciated and honored independence, individualism, courage, and patriotism. He was often described as being "color-blind"—in other words, he didn't care about the color of your skin or whatever made you unique. If you were genuine and kind, that's what mattered. And quite often, even when people were not particularly kind to him, he still tried to be kind to them.
Too young to have served in World War II, Bob served in the U.S. National Guard after graduating from high school in June 1946. Many of his relatives and friends served in World War II, including his older brother, Alfred, who joined the U.S. Navy in August 1943 and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Al was badly injured during the war but survived. Al is honored for his service in the U.S. World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Al's experiences in the war affected Bob dramatically, making him very sensitive to the feelings of veterans. Before agreeing to play Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, Bob made sure the series would not offend veterans by insisting a trailer be shown to veterans groups in the Midwest. They loved the premise, saying that without humor, they never would have made it through the tough times. Bob was sold, he signed the contract, and the rest is history.
After his tremendous success on Hogan's Heroes, he used his fame as a way to entertain veterans and active duty personnel. He frequently visited and spoke at veterans/military events, entertained at military bases, participated in Operation Entertainment, and donated much of his time to the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network (Bob's recordings are all on file in the Library of Congress and are available for the public to hear upon request and appointment).
To those who courageously gave their lives, to those who bravely fought, and to those who now serve and protect us—Thank You.
Note: If you have not read Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, there's a lot about Bob Crane you don't know. His true story is worth learning, and you'll be glad you did. As many have told us, "Thank you! You have changed my negative perception of Bob Crane and given me my show [Hogan's Heroes] back." Put aside the hype and media glare and discover who he really was! Author profits are being donated to various charities in Bob's memory—including to veterans and the USO!