Originally posted by olfuzzy:
Four months shy of his 21st birthday, James King Aurness of Minneapolis, Minn., was waiting anxiously with fellow soldiers, standing on one of the U.S. Army’s WWII landing barges of the U.S. 3rd Army Infantry Division on January 22, 1944 as it forged its way to shore. They were heading to the beach at Anzio, where they faced immediate, horrendous, German Army resistance. Because Jim was 6-foot-7-inches tall, this young Army Private was ordered into the water first, determining its depth for the others. In his autobiography, Jim described it as being “waist high” as he stormed ashore dodging bullets and wounded men falling around him.
Anzio, located 30 miles south of Rome, was one of the deadliest battles of WWII. Anzio Beach was a stretch of sand 15 miles long and 7 miles deep. The infamous battle of Anzio lasted from January 22, 1944 to May 29, 1944. The British 1st Infantry Division landed north of Anzio. The 6615th Ranger Force attacked the port, while the 3rd Army Infantry Division landed south of town. By midnight, history books say that “36,000 men landed, securing a beachhead 2-3 miles deep.”
Seriously wounded in the assault by German machine-gun fire in his knee and lower leg, Jim earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for bravery under fire. It took 18 months recovery and rehabilitation time in military hospitals before being honorably discharged and sent home.
Jim, like thousands of other WWII veterans, enrolled in college, using the GI Bill benefits to get his education. A graduate of Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., he got a job at WLOL in Minneapolis in 1945. Later, he headed to California, trying to break into the movie business as a stuntman or actor. He dropped the “u” in his family name and became James Arness. With his good looks, good voice, education and radio experience, he landed a film part in 1947, playing the role of Loretta Young’s brother.https://www.thefencepost.com/n...anzio-beach-in-wwii/