2021 was quite the year. Militarily speaking it has been a year we wish we could forget with the rapid retreat from Afghanistan and China threatening Taiwan while brutally cracking down on Hong Kong freedoms. Plus, Russian Military massing on Ukrainian fronts and the furious exchanges between the two countries.
2021 also took many famous veterans from us. Colin Powell, Tommy Lasorda, Clarence Williams III, Hal Holbrook, Harry Beal the first Navy SEAL.
Huston Tomlin played Walker Bobby in Talladega Nights and served in the 101st Airborne. He committed suicide like so many veterans. Melvin Van Peebles influenced all of Hollywood and is regarded as the first independent filmmaker. No one thought a successful movie could be made without the studios. He is also the Father of Mario Van Peebles.
2021 in its final hours took our last “Golden Girl” Betty White, just shy of her 100th birthday.
Surprisingly she was a Veteran serving several years stateside during WW2.
Betty served in American Women’s Voluntary Service (AWVS). This was the largest American women’s service organization in the United States during WWII. AWVS provided women volunteers who supported services to help the nation during the war such as message delivery, ambulance driving, selling war bonds, emergency kitchens, aircraft spotters, navigation, aerial photography, fighting fires, truck driving, and canteen workers.
Betty primarily drove trucks all over the Hollywood hills area delivering supplies. She was also a dance girl entertaining GIs before they deployed. These girls carried dance cards and they would write the names of the GIs on the cards. It is where we get the term “I can pencil you in.”
Another Golden Girl, Bea Arthur was one of the first female Marines although publicly she denied it several times throughout her life but national archive records she was in fact. Her first husband Robert Aurthur was a Marine correspondent, whose name she kept. Denials may stem from her hollywood liberal and progressive causes. It may be because in late 1944 she was disciplined for not being able to perform her duties for five weeks. It was due to an unspecified STD. With all the STDs prevalent at these times I personally speculate it was sexism she was disciplined for. No matter, she was honorably discharged after several years at the rank of SSgt E6. No small feat.
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Happy New Year.