Before Green Acres, Eddie Albert was a war hero

The Green Acres star rescued dozens in the Battle of Tarawa.

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As it turns out, Eddie Albert was much more than Oliver Wendell Douglas. He was also a hero of the United States Navy. However, it wasn't until much later in life that Albert got the recognition he deserved.

In November 1943, Eddie Albert was a Navy lieutenant, junior grade, aboard a troop transport off the coast of Tarawa Atoll. American forces were taking on heavy enemy fire, leaving the wounded nearly helpless. That is until Eddie Albert commandeered a small boat and set out on a rescue mission. He started pulling almost-drowned Americans up out of the water and into his tiny boat. When that first boat was full, Albert and his crewmate unloaded the men into the nearby U.S.S. Schroder before making a return trip to pick up more of the wounded men. In all, Albert made 30 trips.

One thousand fifty-six men were killed in the Battle of Tarawa. Eddie Albert rescued 79.

"I was shot in the belly, bleeding badly," WWII veteran Dean Snyder told the Quad-City Times in 1997. "Eddie Albert saved my life, pulling me on the little boat. The Japanese were using us for target practice." 

York, Pennsylvania, was home to a makeshift reunion some 54 years after that fateful day. Albert was belatedly awarded the Bronze Star Medal along with an official presidential citation. It was the first time Snyder had the chance to speak with his rescuer since that day in Tarawa.

"We hugged and shook hands and hit it off just swell. He's a great guy. For years, we knew Eddie Albert was the one who saved all our lives, but nothing ever came of it," said Snyder. 

Pennsylvanian George Thomas led the efforts to ensure the actor was properly commended.

"They could never find the records, so they said," Thomas remarked. "In the service, Eddie's name was Eddie Albert Heimberger. They could never find an Albert to be decorated." Finally, Thomas roped in a congressman and the medal ceremony was scheduled.

"I was watching this fellow with binoculars from another ship that November day," said Thomas. "We just saw this guy and couldn't believe how he was pulling wounded out of the water and not being killed."

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27 Comments

dougloch 7 months ago
That is so awesome!! Such a humble hero! God bless him and may he rest in peace from one sailor to another!!
bdettlingmetv 8 months ago
Tarawa. What a mess. We had family friends contemporary to my grandparents. He was a Marine on Tarawa and had a hellacious night after his bunker took a direct hit. All of his teammates were killed- he was the only one left. He spent the night crawling around in pitch black darkness trying to find somebody alive but only found bodies, or pieces.

After the war he became a rural mail carrier so that he wouldn't have to interact with people much. My grandparents had a ranch on his route and slowly befriended him and his wife.

They would come visit (in the 60s), and other than 'hello', 'goodbye', 'please', and 'thank you' he never said a word. My grandma and his wife would chat, meanwhile my grandpa would get him a beer and they'd watch a ballgame on the TV- never conversing. I think that's why they liked my grandparents- never any pressure to be sociable. I noticed all this even though I was only 9 or so. One day I asked my grandma why Mr. Shane never talked and she told me the story.

In time he got better. When my grandpa passed they came for the funeral and reception and he was genuinely gregarious- very chatty and even laughed once or twice. I was very happy to see his transformation. Thank you for your service and sacrifice, Mr. Shane- rest well, Marine.
tootsieg 8 months ago
What a story! I am so glad EA was recognized and got the Medal of Honor that he deserved.
elizabethfh 8 months ago
You mean, if I want to see a real live war hero all I have to do is watch “Green Acres”? 😁
Bonanza.
Sgt. Dan Blocker and his squad held off a much larger Communist force all
night during the Korean War, they shouldn't have lasted 10 minutes.
(I think MeTV had a version of this story but someone claimed it had a minor error)
You see in later episodes Hoss didn't wear a gun much, it was Little Joe who got most
of the roles shooting it out with bad guys.
He didn't care for his rug either - just like "Adam" - and in one episode got away with
not wearing it in a couple of scenes, nobody noticed till it aired.
It's the one where Hopsing solves a case thru the use of "chops"(fingerprints).

In the 1st season Gomer Pyle episodes, when Gomer and the platoon were marching at the start,
those were real Marines borrowed for the occasion.
Shortly after they got sent to Vietnam and got ambushed, KIA or wounded almost to a man.
One of the mothers years later would watch the start to see her forever young son for a brief second, a torture/relief at the same time. I can't recall anymore where I read/heard this,
maybe someone here has more details?
Idiot 18 year old kids who swallow everything the recruiting sergeants tell them ought to
think about their own mom mourning for 40 years. Not knocking the service, but if your
kid is thinking of joining, ask a relative who is a vet or go down to the Legion Hall and
talk to them.
idapete 8 months ago
Now that's a true blue American
Runeshaper 8 months ago
Way to go, Eddie! 🇺🇸❤️🙏
Snickers 8 months ago
A true hero but then again many who fought and died could be called hero's as well. And when you see a service man or woman in uniform please thank them for their service.
Wiseguy70005 Snickers 7 months ago
Plural of hero is heroes. Ever see "Hogan's Heroes"?
Snickers Wiseguy70005 7 months ago
Used to watch but now living in Alaska I don't get MeTV up here.
KawiVulc 8 months ago
A few years ago I came across the obituary of my HS wood shop teacher. Turns out he was a WWII combat veteran. They used to be all around us, now they are sadly passing much too quickly.
Burroughs 8 months ago
How can I watch my movies on my phone.
Runeshaper Burroughs 8 months ago
Try downloading the app or email MeTV for help!
Avie 8 months ago
"Albert was belatedly awarded the Bronze Star Medal along with an official presidential citation."

THIRTY trips in a small open boat in the face of heavy enemy fire to rescue wounded men? That's borderline Medal of Honor territory. At the very least Albert deserved a Silver Star AND the Navy Cross.

It should also be noted that Eddie Albert's commitment to his fellow human beings didn't end with his service in World War II: he was a passionate enviromentalist and contributor to social causes with his wife, María, who acted under the screen name Margo.
Snickers Avie 8 months ago
The man should have received the Medal of Honor,30 trips under fire and he saved 79 lives. The man didn't even stop to think about what he was doing, he just saw people who needed saving and went out under fire to help. That in my book is a HERO.
BorisK 8 months ago
I always thought Eddie seemed kind of ... grouchy or mean. Not one you could warm up to. Like his warden character in The Longest Yard.
AgingDisgracefully BorisK 8 months ago
Acting! Though the milk-from-a-crowbar line wasn't especially cuddly.
AgingDisgracefully 8 months ago
Hard to imagine in today's ME-ME-ME, NOW-NOW-NOW, Chest-Beating World.
(No offense meant, Rerun Provider.)
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Glad to hear Mr. Albert was recognized and honored, even though years later. It's also humbling that
Eddie Albert never sought out recognition for his heroism.
JustGeri LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Members of The Greatest Generation generally did not. They came back and went on.
bapaug57 JustGeri 8 months ago
You are so right. The Greatest Generation is a very fitting name. I guess I'm biased though as my parents were part of that generation. My Dad was also in WWII in the Marines and he spoke of Tarawa among other places.
BrittReid LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Well said.
Moverfan bapaug57 8 months ago
I had somebody insist once that my dad served in WW2. I had to tell him it would gave been one hell of a neatvtrick if he had...since Dad turned FOURTEEN in September of 1945!
Moverfan Moverfan 8 months ago
That should read "would have been a neat trick"--it's three am and I have no idea why I'm still up...
idapete Moverfan 8 months ago
1:30 here lol
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