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Rod Serling, the creative genius behind The Twilight Zone and other memorable film and television productions, was both haunted and inspired by his experiences as a US Army paratrooper during World War II.
Born Rodman Edward Serling on December 25, 1924, he grew up in Binghamton, New York, where his father ran a grocery. One day after graduating from Binghamton Central High School in 1943, Serling enlisted in the US Army. As a Jew, he looked forward to fighting the Nazis in Europe, and fantasized about becoming a tail gunner in a B-17 bomber. His eyesight wasn’t good enough for that, however, and so he chose what seemed like the next best thing: becoming a paratrooper. Even that wasn’t easy, since at a mere five feet, four inches in height Serling was considered too small for that duty and had to talk his way into gaining admittance to parachute training.
Assigned to the 11th Airborne Division’s 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Serling trained at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, under the rigorous oversight of Colonel Orin D. 'Hard Rock' Haugen. Jack Warden, who as an actor would later work with Serling on The Twilight Zone, and served during the war in the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, recalled that “Toccoa was a hellhole. You’d get up every morning at five o’clock and run the hill in full field pack. The hill was about seven miles, almost a 45 degree angle. And the ones that fell out were sent back to the infantry. I remember one colonel said at the beginning, ‘Look around now. In three months, you won’t see either the person to your left or to your right.’” For Serling that would turn out to be literally true—but for grimmer reasons.
https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/a ... OiDa3Q7UEQ
“Your heart was warm and happy
With the lilt of Irish laughter
Every day and in every way
Now forever and ever after."