Steve McQueen’s quote about joining the Marines was “It was all very pleasant just lying in the sun and watching the girls go by, but one day I suddenly felt bored with hanging around and went and joined the Marines.”
Well, that was the beginning of a very interesting career in the Corps. Born to a stunt pilot and an alcoholic prostitute, he had an up and down childhood which led to his rebel tendencies. He joined the Marines in 1947. He was promoted to Private First Class in an armored unit but was demoted seven times culminating in a two-week AWOL adventure that landed him in the brig for 41 days, 21 of which were on bread and water.
After his brig time, he was involved in a disastrous Arctic training exercise. The ship he was on hit a sandbar and threw several tanks and their crews into the water. Many drowned, but McQueen jumped in and saved the lives of five men.
As recognition for his valor he was appointed to the security team for President Truman’s yacht until 1950 when he was discharged.
McQueen is quoted as saying “The Marines gave me discipline I could live with. By the time I got out, I could deal with things on a more realistic level. All in all, despite my problems, I liked my time in the Marines.”
He went on to use his G.I. Bill to study acting and starred in many great movies including “Bullitt”, “The Great Escape” and countless other action movies as well as his T.V. role on the series “Wanted Dead or Alive” which ran for three seasons.
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