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"Melvin James Kaminsky joined the US Army right out of high school in 1944 at the age of 17. A native of Brooklyn New York, Melvin was recruited by the elite Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and sent to Virginia Military Institute to be taught skills such as military engineering, as well as horsemanship and saber-wielding. When the combat arms complained that ASTP deprived them of the brightest enlisted men, the Army terminated the program after young Private Kaminsky had received twelve weeks of training. He then went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for regular basic training."
"Shipped to Europe in late 1944, Melvin's first duties were as a forward artillery observer. Next he was assigned to the 1104th Engineer Combat Group in time to participate in the Battle of the Bulge. The 1104th ECB became the first unit to throw a bridge across the Roer River, and later on, it built bridges across the Rhine. Kaminsky’s tasks included clearing minefields and defusing land mines. It was an extremely dangerous job, especially when Private Kaminsky had to perform his duties while exposed to enemy fire."
"The unit constructed the first bridge over the Roer River and built similar structures over the Rhine and Weser rivers and the Lippe and Aur-Oker canals. It also destroyed pillboxes and cleared roads. By the end of the war in Europe the 1104th was conducting a reconnaissance of the Harz Mountains." (US Army Corps of Engineers)
At the end of the war, now Corporal Kaminsky, spent his remaining time in service organizing and performing in shows to entertain the troops.
After being discharged from the Army, Melvin returned to New York and resumed his career in entertainment as a comedic writer. His many achievements include an Emmy, an Oscar, a Grammy and a Tony Award. The former Melvin James Kaminsky of Brooklyn New York may be best known for many of his works such as: Blazing Saddles, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, in addition to numerous television and Broadway projects. He is a comic's comic-- He is Mel Brooks.
In an interview many years later, iconic comic Mel Brooks talked of his service during the war: “I was a combat engineer. Isn’t that ridiculous? The two things I hate most in the world are combat and engineering“.
Mel Brooks turned 95 on June 28, 2021.
“Your heart was warm and happy
With the lilt of Irish laughter
Every day and in every way
Now forever and ever after."