Did You Know About Tyrone Power?

Legendary film and stage actor Tyrone Power was widely known as a “matinee idol” during a career that spanned more than 25 years. He starred in numerous films including The Long Grey Line, The Mark Of Zorro, The Sun Also Rises and A Yank In The RAF. Power’s performance as an accused murderer in the motion picture, Witness for the Prosecution, is considered by many cinema historians to be his finest.  Tyrone Power Marine Aviator

Most people are familiar with Tyrone Power the movie star, but did you know that he was also an accomplished pilot? Power learned to fly in 1938 during the filming of the classic western Jesse James. He was also a Marine Corps aviator and served our country during and after World War II. Indeed, flying was a major part of Power’s life.

Power, like many of his Hollywood contemporaries, was caught up in the post Pearl Harbor patriotic fever sweeping the nation by early 1942. When the call to arms came, he promptly enlisted in the Marine Corps. Power’s initial goal was to become a Marine Corps glider pilot.  However, because of his age (28 at the time) and lack of a college education, he did not qualify for the Naval aviator training program as a cadet. As such, Power enlisted as a private and attended boot camp at MCRD San Diego.[1]

After completing boot camp, Power went through Officer Candidate at Quantico, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June 1943. Because he was a seasoned pilot already, Power was assigned to an accelerated flight training program at MCAS Corpus Christi, Texas and trained as a multiengine transport pilot. He earned his Naval Aviator wings and was promoted to First Lieutenant April 1944.

After some additional training at the Flight Instructor Instrument School, Power was assigned to VMR-352 (“Raiders”), based at Cherry Point, North Carolina. In this assignment, Lieutenant Power flew the Curtiss R5C-Commando.[2]  He remained with VMR-352 from October 1944 until mid-January 1945.

In January 1945, Lieutenant Power was assigned to VMR-353, and was shipped out to combat zones in the Pacific. The VMR-353 squadron was briefly based at Kwajalein before moving on to Saipan in March 1945. Power flew numerous missions while assigned to VMR-353. He took part in the air supply and evacuation of wounded Marines from Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and did see some combat, especially on Okinawa. Power remained with VMR-353 until hostilities with Japan ended in September 1945.

Lieutenant Power was ordered off deployment in late November 1945, and returned stateside. He was released from active duty by the Marine Corps in January 1946. Power returned to his film career and made 22 more movies after World War II ended.

Power’s personal decorations for his service during World War II include the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars and the World War II Victory Medal.

Although he was released from active duty and resumed his film career, Tyrone Power remained in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was promoted to Captain in May 1951. However, he was not called back to active service during the Korean War. Power remained in the Marine Corps Reserve until his death in November 1958. At the time of his passing, Tyrone Power was a Major. He was buried with full military honors, including a full Marine Corps honor guard from MCAS El Toro.

[1] At the request of 20th Century Fox, Power was allowed to finish production on the film Crash Dive before reporting for active duty. This movie was fairly typical of early World War II films that were generally geared to promoting support for the war effort on the home front.

 [2] The R5C Commando is more commonly known as the Curtiss-Wright C-46. This aircraft was used extensively in the Pacific Theatre by both Naval and Marine Corps squadrons. It was also used, to a much lesser extent, by US Army Air Forces is final days of the war in Europe.

13 thoughts on “Did You Know About Tyrone Power?

  1. Tyrone Power honorably served his country in the USMC from 1942 till his death in 1958. A postage stamp in his Marine Corps uniform should be released in his honor and a monument should be erected in his honor in D.C.

    • He was one of millions who served honorably, what makes a transport pilot special enough to have a monument in Washington D.C.?

      • They flew without weapons or air support into the middle of the battles, landing and off loading supplies and taking back the dead and wounded. Flying at wave top level to avoid radar and enemy planes. Only one supply plane was ever lost.

  2. My father flew with him in the South Pacific in WWII. I have my dad’s flight log showing him and Tyrone flying missions. He told me many stories of his time there and I’ll always remember them in his honor. His name was Harold Hanson.


    • My dad was on Okinawa with the 6th marines, all who served were the greatest generation. My dad went on to China with the 6th marines for one year then spent 40 years in the US Treasury Dept as the commissioner of the public debt, WWII was with him his entire life, but it was a well lived life. The 6th marines were an amazing group of men.

  3. My dad flew transport planes out of Saipan for the Army Air Force at the same time as Tyrone Power. He said he had dinner with him and another Army pilot once when another Marine came in. The Marine came up to the table and started a conversation by stating Tyrone looked familiar and asked if he had ever been stationed at such and such a base. Tyrone said no and repeated this response to several other locations until the other Marine finally said his good byes and left. The other Army pilot asked Tyrone why he didn’t tell the Marine who he was. Tyrone’s response was “If he doesn’t know who I am then I’m not. I’m just another Marine.” Dad said he was one of the nicest men he ever met and after this interaction he had the utmost respect for him.

    • Every effort was important Carol Collier? Dangerous or not, we could not have won the war without everybody chipping in! A chain is only, as strong, as its weakest link! In the immortal words of our Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill after The Battle of Britain: Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few! Tyrone Edmund Power III was one of those few! I think that you would find Mr Power the last to inflate his own importance, as he was a very humble man. My late husband´s father was a US B17 bomber pilot and paid the ultimate price after surviving the European conflict and was then shipped out to the Pacific, where he perished. Do not belittle anyone that did their part! Those that survived or those that gave their tomorrow for our today. We owe them all a debt of gratitude we cannot even imagine! Unless you participated yourself you have no idea, what dangers they went through. I happen to know that Mr Power visite Hiroshima after the bomb and he nver spoke of the horrors he saw there, it was just too much to bear, Bless his heart and may he R.I.P. as one of the greatest humanitarians that ever lived!

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