Skip to main content

J.D. Salinger And Other Famous Folks Who Fought On D-Day

Photo credit:

Peter Thomas

June 6 will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Nazi-occupied Normandy in France, in what was the largest naval invasion in world history.

I recently watched an episode of NOVA called "D-Day's Sunken Secrets" and immediately recognized the speaker narrating the documentary. It was Peter Thomas, the voiceover artist for "Forensic Files," ESPN Monday Night Football commercials, and the Academy Award-winning documentary One Survivor Remembers.

What was I surprised to learn, when reading the credits for "D-Day's Sunken Secrets," was that Peter Thomas is a World War II veteran who fought on Omaha Beach.

That got me wondering about other famous men who took part in the Allied invasion. I did a little digging, and here are a few names you might recognize...

J.D Salinger — The author of The Catcher in the Rye stormed Utah Beach on D-Day, according to In fact, Salinger biographer Shane Salerno told NPR that Salinger "was carrying six chapters of The Catcher in the Rye when he landed on D-Day." The completed book would later go on to sell 65 million copies.

Yogi Berra — The Major League Baseball catcher, manager, and Hall of Fame member was Seaman 1st class Lawrence Berra on June 6, 1944. NBC News reports Berra "helped soften up German defenses and ran messages from Omaha Beach to Utah Beach" on that historic day.

Photo credit:

Sir Alec Guinness

Alec Guinness — Decades before playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, Guinness served in the Royal Navy. According to the book Duty, Honor, Applause: America's Entertainers in World War II, Guinness was piloting a landing craft on D-Day that ferried British troops to the beaches of Normandy.

James Doohan — Born in Canada, Doohan probably is best known as the character Scotty (as in "Beam me up, Scotty!") in the television series "Star Trek." describes his D-Day experience this way: "While leading a group of soldiers, Doohan was shot several times, injuring him in the leg and chest. The chest wound could have proved fatal had it not been for a cigarette case in his shirt pocket. Doohan also lost one of his fingers."


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.