Friday, November 11, 2011

VETERAN'S DAY - JIM ROCKFORD

Every year on Veteran's Day, if my old noggin doesn't forget, I try to honor a member of America's Armed Forces from the TV Universe who is still among the living/replaying. (On Memorial Day, Inner Toob does the same for those veterans no longer with us onscreen and sometimes even off - when it comes to the actors.)

This year, we're honoring Jim Rockford of 'The Rockford Files' and several follow-up TV movies.....

Jim Rockford was either a private in Korea who rose to the rank of sergeant, or he was a sergeant who was busted down to private. He served in the 24th Infantry Division of which Wikipedia states:

The 24th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the United States Army. Before its most recent inactivation in 2006, it was based at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Formed during World War II from the disbanding Hawaiian Division, the division saw action throughout the Pacific theater, first fighting in New Guinea before landing on the Philippine islands of Leyte and Luzon, driving Japanese forces from them. Following the end of the war, the division participated in patrol operations in Japan, and was the first division to respond at the outbreak of the Korean War. For the first 18 months of the war, the division was heavily engaged on the front lines with North Korean and Chinese forces, suffering over 10,000 casualties. It was withdrawn from the front lines to the reserve force for the remainder of the war, but returned to Korea for patrol duty at the end of major combat operations.

Jim Rockford's service record in Korea closely mirrored that of James Garner, an actor who bore a remarkable resemblance to Jimbo. (Garner has his own televersion, seen in an episode of the sitcom 'Angel'.) So, it's possible that because of his actions during the fourteen months he was in Korea, the Rockfish was awarded a Silver Star. If the circumstances were the same as Garner's, then he was wounded twice. The first time in the face and hand because of shrapnel from a mortar round; the second time (April 23, 1951), he got hit in the ass. (Apparently, it was friendly fire from American fighter jets as he dove headfirst into a foxhole - a typical Rockford move that can be traced back to an ancestor, Bret Maverick.)

For those injuries, Jim Rockford was also awarded a Purple Heart.

While in the infantry, Rockford was known as "Hound Dog". The nickname was given to him by his commanding officer, Colonel "Howling Mad" Smith after Smith carried the wounded Rockford for fifteen miles - with Rockford howling in pain every step of the way.

Another of Rockford's friends was in the Korean Conflict as well - Angel Martin. But he ended up serving two years in federal prison for desertion under fire.

Toobworld Central salutes Jim Rockford, and all those who served our Country both on and, most especially, off-screen.

Thank you.

I know the uniform worn by Garner seen above is wrong for Rockford's military service (It's a publicity picture for 'The Great Escape'), but it was the best I could find.......

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