James Arness was born May 26, 1923, in Minneapolis. He entered college just as World War II began and dreamed of being a naval aviator. It seemed as if every night his fraternity was having a party to send off a brother to the service. Young Arness got his interview with a naval flight program officer, but his hopes vanished as he was informed that his six foot seven inch height disqualified him automatically. He wrote his draft board asking that they call him up as soon as possible and so he ended up as a private in the famed Third Infantry Division where he earned a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Because of his stature, he was chosen to be first off the landing craft (to test the depth of the water) when his division landed at Anzio, Italy. He was subsequently wounded by enemy machine gun fire and spent eighteen months recovering in overseas and stateside hospitals.
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