Rooney, Mickey, PFC

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
203 kb
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Last Rank
Private First Class
Primary Unit
1944-1946, 6817th Special Services Battalion
Service Years
1944 - 1946
Private First Class


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

93 kb

Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Diane Short (TWS Chief Admin) to remember Rooney, Mickey, Pfc.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Brooklyn
Last Address
North Hollywood

Date of Passing
Apr 06, 2014
 
Location of Interment
Hollywood Forever - Hollywood, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Cathedral Lake View, Elevation 15, Couch B-1501

 Official Badges 

Honorably Discharged WW II


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 Unit Assignments
6817th Special Services Battalion
  1944-1946, 6817th Special Services Battalion
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1945 World War II
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
With a strong sense of patriotism since before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Mickey was never away from the cause. When Mickey was originally called up for service, he was turned down, classified 4-f due to high blood pressure. Extremely upset by this disappointment for one so anxious to join in on the war effort, Mickey would not give up and he took measures to insure that he would be accepted on another try. In the interim, the Mick spent the next two years entertaining the troops at the USO, going all out on bond drives, including with friends Judy Garland and Jimmy Cagney, and doing shows for Armed Forces Radio. When next Mickey tried again to re-enlist, he was accepted. He was twenty-four years old, already married and was newly divorced. Louis B. Mayer, Mickey's boss at MGM, did not concern himself in the loss of a major box-office attraction and instead had the studio adapt with Mickey who was in the midst of filming "National Velvet" with 12-year old Elizabeth Taylor. Mickey was told by representatives of Uncle Sam that he would be free for one month more only, so with that news Mayer decided that all of Mickey's scenes would be shot first. By the time the picture had finished filming, Mickey was already on his way overseas.

Mickey Rooney's Service Record. In June of 1944, Mickey was inducted into the United States Army at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, Calif. Three days later he boarded a troop train headed for Fort Riley, Kansas where the Mick was instructed in cavalry tactics. A trooper for sure, Mickey particularly enjoyed basic training: the forced marches with heavy packs, the obstacle courses, and especially time spent on the rifle range where he qualified as sharpshooter with the automatic rifle. He was quite clearly leadership material and within two weeks time was promoted to squad leader. Despite that the Mick excelled in tactics and training, a whiner in the group incited trouble by stating that the only reason Rooney received promotion to squad leader was because of his Hollywood celebrity status. Entirely untrue, Mickey would not have anyone, not even a veteran, denegrate his love of country and honorable service. He called the soldier out. The two came to fistacuffs--bare knuckle--with the entire squad looking on. Rooney, famous for his short stature, got the best of his opponent before the fight was broken up. Afterward, the two made amends over a couple of brews. There were no other questions raised as to Mickey's patriotism, nor did anyone wish to test the "punch" of the "little giant."

In September, 1944, Mickey was sent to Fort Sibert, in Alabama, for training in chemical warfare. While in Alabama, he met and soonafter married his second wife, Alabama beauty queen, Mary Jane Rase, who became the mother of Mickey's two oldest boys, Mickey Rooney, Jr. and Timothy. While Mickey was about to start training, a new development forced his reassignment to the 6817th Special Services Battalion. It seemed that USO performers refused to bring their entertainment to the front lines, and so the Army devised special units for front line entertainment from among musicians, entertainers, comedians, and actors within their own military ranks. Mickey headed out for an Army base in New York and from there would head overseas on board the luxurious, Queen Mary, ocean liner bound for England. The ship lawfully held up to 1,000 passengers, however, the United States Army crammed no less than 7,000 soldiers onto the liner which brought the Americans to Tenth Replacement Center in Litchfield, near Birmingham. The entertainers in the group, when they were not entertaining the other troops, were assigned to KP duty to ward off any suggestion that they were being given special treatment. En route to France, it was carefully regarded that a total of 153 entertainers could not be easily transported at the hurried pace traveled at that time by the infantry who was moving about steadily. The authorities decided that they would assign three entertainers each: one musician, one singer, and one MC to do the joking, to do what became known as "jeep shows" known as "OK-USA" strictly entertainment for the men on the front lines. In his troop of three, Mickey was the MC. His first show was given three miles from the front lines and in-between two Sherman tanks in a Belgium snowstorm.

The objective of the troops entertaining in the "jeep shows" was to entertain the men on the front lines meanwhile also remaining soldiers and prone as well to combat situations. The members of the jeep shows ate c-rations and as did the infantry, could go for weeks without showers or shaving, and were required to carry a gun in case they needed to use it. Mickey has his share of combat stories, evolving from situations where sometimes he was also required to pick up the rifle.

The story of Mickey Rooney does not start at 18 months old on the Vaudeville stage. It starts within the heart and soul of a young boy who understood what it meant to "support the troops." A young boy whose only mission in life was to make people happy; all people--including our nation's veterans. Mickey felt, and continues to feel, a bond with his fellow servicemen. Today, Mickey and his family attend many veteran-related ceremonies. In 2008, Mickey was Grand Marshall for the World War II veterans leading off the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. This year, in November of 2009, Mickey is the invited honored guest to speak at Tom Hank's National World War II Musuem in New Orleans, Louisiana, after which ceremony Mickey will be flying out to Crystal City, Virginia, to join our National Vietnam & Gulf War Coalition for a ceremony honoring the man who knew what it meant to be a patriot before the world knew about Pearl Harbor.

From military service in WWII and entertaining the troops in combat zones, to entertaining with the USO in Korea, Mickey continued to support veterans and patriotic causes until his death. During the Vietnam years Mickey supported the troops and also appeared in war-themed movies watched by many of the soldiers overseas.
   
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