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The following press release from Ancestry.com gives details of U.S. Marine Corps activities during World War II and the Korean War. Many iconic celebrities are part of the collection, including: Ted Williams, Bea Arthur, accused JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, Steve McQueen, F. Lee Bailey, Gene Hackman, Dan Rather, Jim Lehrer, Harvey Keitel, Ed McMahon and Mills Lane:

Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced that more than 27 million new records and images detailing U.S. Marine Corps activities during World War II and the Korean War are now available on Ancestry.com. The records of many notable celebrities, including baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams, actress Bea Arthur and accused JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald are part of this valuable collection. Revealing details about many iconic figures in American history who served in the U.S. Marine Corps can be found, as well as the compelling stories of Marines – infamous, famous or simply family – who helped shape history from 1940 to 1958.

For family members who have their own heroes listed in this newly expanded collection, seeing the details of a loved one’s time in the military can be particularity poignant. Often the records can provide a snapshot of the sacrifices made by these Marines to protect American freedom. For the nearly 25,000 U.S. Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice in WWII and the Korean War, these records mean their stories will never be lost. Their contributions and sacrifices have been captured and will be remembered far beyond Memorial Day 2012.

Compelling celebrity stories include:

Ted Williams -The nineteen-time MLB All-Star served in both World War II and the Korean War. An interesting side note is that Williams almost never enlisted at all. At the onset of World War II, Williams stated he was unable to enlist due to family financial concerns. A reluctance to enlist in the military at the time of World War II, for whatever reason, was considered unacceptable – even for professional athletes.  One of Williams’ sponsors, Quaker Oats, withdrew their endorsement contract after getting word that Williams would not be enlisting. On May 22, 1942, after much public criticism, Williams enlisted as a naval aviator in the Marines Corps and later served as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. His skills as a pilot were put to the test when, during the Korean War in 1953, the hydraulics and electrical systems of his aircraft were knocked out by a piece of flak during a raid. Despite damage to the aircraft, Williams was able to land at a nearby U.S. Air Force field and, for his actions that day, was awarded the Air Medal.

Bea Arthur -Also joining the war effort was actress Bea Arthur, known for her role on The Golden Girls 40 years after the conclusion of World War II. At the time of her enlistment at Marine Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Arthur went by her maiden name, Beatrice Frankel. Starting as a private, Arthur worked her way up to the rank of staff sergeant before her honorable discharge in September 1945. In later interviews, Arthur denied serving in the Marines; however, Ancestry.com’s records clearly indicate she was enlisted between 1943 and 1945.

Lee Harvey Oswald -Marine Corps Muster Rolls not only include the name, rank and enlistment date of Marines, but also remarks on their service and prison/punishment details. Searching the records for Lee Harvey Oswald – the man the FBI claimed to have assassinated President Kennedy- reveals Oswald began his career in the Marines at the El Toro Air Station in October, 1956, seven years before the assassination of JFK. At that time, Oswald held the rank of private. A year later, in 1957, the collection records shows Oswald moved from El Toro Air Station in California to Atsugi Naval Air Facility in Japan. Oswald was promoted to the rank of private first class, only to be demoted back to the rank of private and given medical treatment after he accidently shot himself in the arm.

Other celebrities referenced in the collection include: Steve McQueen, F. Lee Bailey, Gene Hackman, Dan Rather, Jim Lehrer, Harvey Keitel, Ed McMahon and Mills Lane.

“The additions to the U.S. Marine Corps Muster Roll collection on Ancestry.com help us honor those men and women who left their homes and families in order to secure freedom for future generations,” saidDaniel Jones, VP of Content, Ancestry.com. “While it’s always exciting to see so many celebrity names in a collection, the real value is providing millions of Americans who have family members in the Marines important information about where and when their ancestors served.”

About the Marine Corp. Muster Rolls

The collection, which spans 19 years, contains U.S. Marine Corps Personnel Rosters, Muster Rolls and Unit Diaries from 1940 to 1958, which encompasses the United States’ involvement in WWII and the Korean War. Personnel Rosters were completed monthly and included the names of each person at each duty station, their rank, service number and military occupational specialty. Muster Rolls and Unit Diaries often include a bit more detail and were also prepared monthly. Muster Rolls can include prison or punishment details and Unit Diaries can contain remarks about a particular soldier’s service. The records are searchable, making it easy to discover and, in some cases, follow a veteran’s military career from start to finish.  Ancestry.com has the largest collection of U.S. military records available online, now with more than 150 million records.

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