Famous Americans Killed in World War II

American Actors and Sports Figures Killed During the War

During World War II, over 400,000 U.S. citizens were killed including servicemen and women; 291,557 in battle, and 113,842 in non-theater activities, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. Among them were many well known Americans. 

Many famous Americans answered the call to serve during World War II, either during active duty or during homefront efforts. This list remembers famous Americans who were killed while serving their country in one fashion or another during the Second World War.

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Glenn Miller

Major Glenn Miller as part of the Army Air Corps
Public Domain/US Government Photo

Glenn Miller was an American bandleader and musician. He volunteered for military service during World War II to help lead what hoped would be a more modernized military band. He became a Major in the Army Air Force and led the Army Air Force Band. He and his 50-piece band played across England. On Dec. 15, 1944, Miller was set to fly across the English Channel to play for Allied soldiers in Paris. However, his plane disappeared somewhere over the English Channel and he is still listed as missing in action. Numerous theories have been put forward to how he died, the most common of which is he was killed by 'friendly fire.' He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Jack Lummus

Jack Lummus in uniform

 United States Marine Corp History Division/Public Domain/WikiCommons

Jack Lummus was a professional football player who played for the New York Giants. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1942. He quickly rose through the ranks. He was part of the battle which took the island of Iwo Jima and died while spearheading an assault leading Company E's third rifle platoon. Sadly, he stepped on a landmine, lost both legs, and died as a result of internal injuries.

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Foy Draper

Jesse Owens (left), Ralph Metcalfe (second left), Foy Draper (second right) and Frank Wykoff (right)the USA 4x100 metres Relay Team at the 1936 Olympic Games
Jesse Owens (left), Ralph Metcalfe (second left), Foy Draper (second right) and Frank Wykoff (right).

 Public Domain/WikiCommons

Foy Draper was part of the gold medal relay team along with Jesse Owens at the 1936 Summer Olympics. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940. He then joined the 97th Squadron of the 47th Bomb Group at Thelepte, Tunisia. On Jan. 4, 1943, Draper flew off on a mission to strike German and Italian ground forces in Tunisia. He and his crewmates never returned, shot down by enemy aircraft. He was buried in the American cemetery in Tunisia. 

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Elmer Gedeon

Elmer Gedeon played professional baseball for the Washington Senators. In 1941, he was drafted by the Army. He served as a bomber and his B-26 Bomber was shot down over France in April 1944.

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Harry O'Neill

Harry O'Neill was a professional baseball player for the Philadelphia Athletics, although he only played in one professional ball game in 1939. He then continued to play semi-professional ball until he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. He became a first lieutenant and lost his life due to sniper fire during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

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Al Blozis

Al Blozis was a professional football player who played defensive tackle for the New York Giants. He enlisted in the Army in 1943. In January 1945, he died while trying to search for two men from his unit who had not returned from scouting enemy lines in the Vosges Mountains of France.

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Carole Lombard

carole lombard in swimsuit
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Carole Lombard was an American comedic actress who never served in the military. However, her death was connected to World War II because she died in a plane crash near Las Vegas, Nevada, while returning home from a War Bond rally in Indiana. In January 1944, the Liberty ship, a cargo ship built during the war, was named the SS Carole Lombard in her honor.

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Charles Paddock

Charles Paddock

Materialscientist /Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Charles Paddock was an Olympic runner who won two gold and one silver medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics and one silver medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics. He served as a Marine during World War I and was an aide during World War II to Major General William P. Upshur. They along with four other crewmen died in a plane crash near Sitka, Alaska on July 21, 1943.

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Leonard Supulski

Leonard Supulski was a professional football player who played for the Philadelphia Eagles. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He trained as a pilot. He along with seven other airmen died on August 31, 1943, during a routine B-17 training mission near Kearney, Nebraska.

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Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

John F. Kennedy sitting next to his brother Joseph Kennedy Jr
John F. Kennedy sitting next to his brother Joseph Kennedy Jr, whose plane was shot down in World War II, both wearing naval uniforms. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr, is famous due to his family connections. His father was a well-known businessman and Ambassador. His brother, John F. Kennedy, would become the 35th president of the United States. He became a naval aviator in 1942. He was due to return home after completing missions in England between 1942 and 1944. However, he volunteered to be part of Operation Aphrodite. On July 23, 1944, Kennedy was to bail out of a plane full of explosives that would then be remotely detonated. However, the explosives on board the plane detonated before he and his co-pilot could bail out.

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Robert "Bobby" Hutchins

Our Gang - A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen
The cast of 'Our Gang'.

 Public Domain/WikiCommons

Bobby Hutchins was a child actor who played "Wheezer" in the "Our Gang" movies. He joined the US Army in 1943. He died on May 17, 1945, in a mid-air collision during a training exercise at Merced Army Airfield Base in California.

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Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle Smoking With Marines
Columnist Ernie Pyle rests on the roadside with a Marine Patrol, Okinawa, April 8, 1945. Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Ernie Pyle was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who became a war correspondent during World War II. He died of sniper fire on April 18, 1945, while reporting on the invasion of Okinawa. He was one of only a few civilians who were killed during World War II that were awarded a Purple Heart.