OK, I was taken in by this story but, alas, according to
www.snopes.com (whom I come to
trust), this is but mere fiction (note the subtle pun). Instead
of just removing it, I can admit when I'm wrong and the true
story has some interesting tidbits so I'm including what Snopes
has to say at the bottom.
Dialog From a Tonight Show ... Johnny Carson ... His guest
was Lee Marvin.
Johnny said, "Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware
that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima ...
and that during the course of that action you earned the Navy
Cross and were severely wounded."
And you know how Lee was ...
"Yeah, yeah ... I got shot square in the ass and they gave
me the cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi
... bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys gettin'
shot hauling you down. But Johnny at Iwo I served under the
bravest man I ever knew ... We both got the Cross the same day
but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison.
The dumb bastard actually stood up on Red Beach and directed
his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. That
Sergeant and I have been life long friends.
"When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant
and he lit a smoke and passed it to me lying on my belly on
the litter ..."Where'd they get you Lee?"... "Well Bob ... if
you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse."....."Johnny,
I'm not lying ... Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever
Knew ... Bob Keeshan ...You and the world know him as Captain
Origins: We can't say for sure whether actor Lee Marvin
ever related something like the story described above to Johnny
Carson on the Tonight Show (Marvin was a guest on the show seven
times during Carson's tenure as host), but the details of the
anecdote are undeniably false.
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
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. Keeshan was born on 27
June 1927 and enlisted two weeks before his 18th birthday, months
too late to have taken part in the fighting at Iwo Jima. 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."