Original ‘Star Trek’ Actors Who Served Their Countries

Leonard Nimoy

Family Phile/Getty Leonard Nimoy.

Joseph Campbell, author of “The Hero’s Journey,” said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” 

Some of the main actors from “Star Trek” the original series joined the military to serve a greater-than-oneself cause. Some enlisted to help stop the Nazis in World War II; another joined the U.S. Army Reserves during the Korean War. 

Read on to see which “Star Trek” figures were war heroes and how the military helped their careers.

DeForest Kelley

Time To Kill (1945)In this short armed forces educational film, sailors consider and discuss life after World War II. Stars: George Reeves and DeForest Kelly2011-03-05T13:42:44Z

DeForest Kelley — Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy — was born Jackson DeForest Kelley in Atlanta, according to a biography on VeteranTributes.org. The profile says Kelley enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) on March 3, 1943, and began active duty a week later. During his time in the military, he served as a public relations writer and control tower operator in Roswell, New Mexico, according to H&I TV. Later, he was assigned to the first Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California, where he worked on recruiting and training films — first as a technical assistant, and eventually as an actor.

The 1945 training film Time to Kill featured Kelley alongside another would-be superstar — George Reeves (also known as Superman). 

 In 1946, Kelley was honorably discharged.

He went on to continue his acting career, playing a number of Westerns before becoming the Enterprise’s friendly doctor.

James Doohan

Canadian-born James Doohan — Montgomery “Scotty” Scott — joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in 1938, according to a biography posted on FamilyPhile.com. The year after, Doohan joined the Royal Canadian Artillery, 14th (Midland) Field Battery of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, according to War History Online. In 1940, he became a commissioned lieutenant, and in 1944, he was one of the infantry pushing forward on D-Day, the account continues.

According to the War History Online article, Doohan later told the Associated Press of his journey onto the beach, “We were more afraid of drowning than (we were of) the Germans.”

After reaching Juno Beach, Doohan shot two German snipers while leading his men to higher ground, the outlet reported

“Doohan led his men across the sands and got lucky,” the War History Online account explained. “Despite the anti-tank mines beneath their feet, none went off, as the men were not heavy enough to activate them.”

Later that night, Doohan was hit by friendly fire six times, with one bullet hitting a silver cigarette case in his chest pocket, saving his life, the outlet reported. Another bullet hit his right middle finger, which needed to be amputated, and the four other bullets hit him in the leg.

After recovering from his wounds, he trained as a pilot and graduated from Air Observation Pilot Course 40, according to Family Phile.

The outlet also said Doohan was once labelled the “craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force” after a stunt that landed him in hot water: He flew a plane “between mountainside telegraph poles to prove it could be done.” 

After the war, he started a voice acting career, War History Online said.

“He would go on to do 4,000 shows on radio, 450 on TV, and earn a reputation as the most versatile voice actor in the business,” the outlet wrote. “It was in 1965, however, that he indeed entered history when he landed the role of Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott in Star Trek. As well as playing the role of Chief Engineer for the Starship Enterprise, Doohan also helped develop the Klingon and Vulcan languages.”

Gene Roddenberry

Gene Roddenberry Up Close and Personal InterviewClips from "Gene Roddenberry Up Close and Personal" DVD, 1981, the longest and most intimate TV interview he ever gave. Full interview available for sale at roddenberryinterview.com Buy now at roddenberryinterview.com/2010-12-12T22:16:41Z


Eugene (Gene) Wesley Roddenberry entered into the Army Air Corps as a second lieutenant stationed in the Pacific Theater at Guadalcanal, according to StarTrek.com. He flew B-17 bombers there, including one bomber called the Yankee Doodle, according to an article on Military.com.

According to War History Online, Roddenberry befriended a Chinese pilot named Kim Noonien Singh during the war. Apparently, Roddenberry used this name for Khan Noonien Singh (from “Space Seed” and “Wrath of Khan”) and Data’s father Dr. Noonien Soong (from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”). It was Roddenberry’s hope to capture his old friend’s attention; he’d lost track of him and wanted to reconnect, the outlet explained. (Although some sources claim the friend’s name was Kim Noonien Wang.)

Military indicates that, “After 89 combat missions and at the rank of captain, Roddenberry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal before being honorably discharged in 1945.”

According to the article on Star Trek’s website, Roddenberry started writing and selling stories and poetry to various magazines and the New York Times during the war. Afterward, he joined the Air Force to help them identify causes of aircraft crashes. Web comic “The Oatmeal” covered, famously, Roddenberry’s further adventures in flying before deciding to do other things, including serving with the LAPD and then starting “Star Trek.”

Leonard Nimoy

Combat Psychiatry Korean War Era With Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek And Fess Parker of Davy CrockettLike This Movie Trailer? Go to militaryvideo.com/ to purchase the entire 30-minute video, or to see movie trailers of over 700 other military videos. Produced by the Marine Corps in 1954, this film looks at the role of the Division Psychiatrist in dealing with Marines with varying degrees of combat fatigue. Leonard Nimoy and Fess…2009-10-20T22:15:51Z

Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) volunteered for service in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1953, during the Korean War according to Family Phile. Nimoy rose to the rank of sergeant during his time in the entertainment division.

Nimoy appeared in training films, including this one in which he played a young service member who has post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and needs a psychiatrist. Fess Parker, known for playing the roles of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, appeared in the same video.

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