Four Celebrities Who Fought on D-Day in 1944

Wes O'Donnell
4 min readJun 5

This week sees the 79th anniversary of the now-legendary Allied invasion of Fortress Europe. While incredible movies like “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan” do justice to the heroic acts of that fateful day, the real heroes were unassuming Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Australians who answered their nation’s call to push back against tyranny.

We live in an extremely fortunate time in which we are still able to shake the hands of men who waded ashore amidst what was hell on earth. Some of those men who survived went on to use their Montgomery G.I. Bill for college or farming. Many World War II veterans started businesses, including my own grandfather.

We remember the 160,000 Allied troops who fought on D-Day for their valor, while other D-Day veterans achieved a degree of celebrity in literature, entertainment, and sports after the war.

So who were these now-famous D-Day veterans?

J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger — Author of “The Catcher in the Rye” — Public domain

The author of the classic novel “The Catcher in the Rye” is rumored to have had several unfinished chapters with him as he stormed Utah Beach on D-Day. He would go on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest — the latter where he lost half of his unit. Assigned to a counterintelligence unit, Salinger used his proficiency in German and French to interrogate prisoners of war.

Salinger carried the pain and depression that stemmed from his service throughout his entire life. According to History Daily, it’s likely that he spent much of the rest of his life trying to understand the horrors of World War II.

Published as a novel in 1951, “The Catcher in the Rye” would go on to sell 65 million copies.

James Doohan

James Doohan AKA “Scotty” from Star Trek — Public domain

The beloved character Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in “Star Trek” once stormed Juno Beach as a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery. Upon landing, Doohan killed two enemy snipers. That night, while crossing between command posts, Doohan was hit with six bullets from a nervous Canadian sentry.

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge