You had one Paul Douglas politician with no prior service in the Great War, at 50 years of age he enlisted and was excepted into the Marine Corps, though he did eventually become an officer.
As alderman, Douglas had worked with Chicago Daily News publisher Frank Knox in fighting corruption in Chicago. Knox, who had been Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1936, had become Secretary of the Navy, thus responsible for both the Navy and the Marine Corps.
Shortly after losing the primary, Douglas resigned from the Chicago City Council and, with the aid of Knox, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a private at the age of 50. As a member of the 57th Street Meeting of the Quakers, Douglas recognized that joining the Marines was contrary to the traditional testimony of that group against war and offered to resign his membership; the meeting refused to release him. Promoted to corporal, then to sergeant, Douglas was kept stateside, writing training manuals, and giving inspirational speeches to troops. He was told he was "too old to go overseas 'as an enlisted man'". With the aid of Knox, and of Knox assistant Adlai Stevenson, Douglas was commissioned as an officer, and was subsequently sent to the Pacific theater of operations with the 1st Marine Division.
On the second day of the Battle of Peleliu, Captain Douglas finally saw action when his unit waded into the fray. He earned a Bronze Star for carrying ammunition to the front lines under enemy fire and earned his first Purple Heart when he was grazed by shrapnel while carrying flamethrower ammunition to the front lines. In that six-week battle, while investigating some random fire shootings, Douglas was shot at as he uncovered a two-foot-wide cave. He then killed the Japanese soldier inside at which point he wondered whether his enemy might be an economics professor from the University of Tokyo.
A few months later, during the Battle of Okinawa, Douglas earned his second Purple Heart. A volunteer rifleman in an infantry platoon, he was helping to carry wounded from 3rd Battalion 5th Marines along the Naha-Shuri line when a burst of machine gun fire tore through his left arm, severing the main nerve and leaving it permanently disabled.
After a thirteen-month stay in the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, Douglas was given an honorable discharge as a Lieutenant Colonel with full disability pay.
Here's his plaque at Parris Island.
Edited by patches, 28 December 2018 - 10:36 PM.