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VFW Magazine April 2017 : Page_23

PHOTO cOurTESy OF NaTIONaL BaSEBaLL HaLL OF FamE aNd muSEum S ince the birth of our nation, many veterans have gone on to greatness in a variety of fields. From U.S. presidents to well-known authors, athletes and actors, WWI is no exception. Here is a look at some of those famous vets from the “Great War.” Service in France. He accidentally inhaled mustard gas dur-ing a training exer-cise at Chaumont and was exposed again on Flanders Field, result-ing in a lengthy hospi-tal stay. “Matty” was man-ager of the Cincinnati Reds (1916-18) and president of the Boston Braves (1923-25) before succumbing to tuber-culosis at 45. His great-est legacy was instilling sportsmanship in America’s youth. harry s. truman (1884-1972) b. lamar, mo. Ranked No. 7 (a “near great”) among U.S. presidents, Harry Truman (1945-1953) brought the war in the Pacific to a swift end in 1945. He also launched the Truman Doctrine to contain communism. Other legacies of his term as presi-dent include the authorization of the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, helping establish NATO and presiding over the Berlin Airlift. Truman also desegregated the armed forces and unified them under a single secretary of defense. As captain of D Btry., 129th FA Regt., 35th Inf. Div., he fought in the Vosges Mountains, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. Truman served in France from April 13, 1918, through April 9, 1919. A biographer wrote, “The decision to go into the Army during WWI was the cru-cial event in Harry Truman’s life.” Truman agreed: “My whole political career is based upon my war service and war associates.” He was a lifetime VFW member. 33rD presIDent Walter a. brennan (1894-1974) b. sWampscott, mass. actor Considered America’s first sports hero, Christopher Mathewson served in the Chemical Warfare Service in France during World War I. Also known as “Christy” or “Matty,” he played 17 seasons and was among the first inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in films such as The Invisible Man (1933) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). He earned his first Academy Award for his role as Swan Bostrom in the 1936 film Come and Get It . His two other Academy Awards were for roles in Kentucky (1939) and The Westerner (1940). One of Brennan’s most memorable roles was as Pastor Rosier Pile in Sergeant York (1941), for which he received an Oscar nomination. On TV, he is best remem-bered for playing Grandpa Amos in The Real McCoys (1957-63). After five decades of work in televi-sion, Brennan was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Feb. 8, 1960. And in 1970, he secured a spot in the Hall of Great Western Performers four years before his death at age 80. chrIstopher matheWson (1880-1925) b. FactoryvIlle, pa. baseball player America’s first sports hero, “Christy” Mathewson was one of baseball’s greatest pitchers. He perfected the “screwball,” and his strikeout record with the New York Giants endured some 50 years. He played 17 seasons (1900-16) and was among the first elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. At 38, Mathewson volunteered for the Army, serving in the Chemical Warfare First to win three Academy Awards as best supporting actor, Walter Brennan appeared in some 241 roles between 1929 and 1974, both in television and movies. He has been called the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films. As an enlisted man in C Btry., 1st Bn., 101st FA Regt., 26th Inf. Div., Brennan was in France from November 1917 until April 1919. His unit fought in four major offensives: Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. He lost half of his teeth because of expo-sure to gas in France. Brennan began his entertainment career at 15 as a vaudeville actor, rekin-dling his love for acting in 1929 after relo-cating to Los Angeles. He had early roles LEFT: Shown here with his VFW life membership card, America’s 33rd president Harry Truman ranks high on the list of famous World War I veterans. He served a year in France during the Great War. Desegregating the armed forces and unifying them under one secretary of defense is just one of the many acts Truman’s presidency is known for. APRIL 2017   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 23

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