Military-Related Deaths for the Week of February 26-March 4

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Military-Related Deaths for the Week of February 26-March 4

Francis Marion, "The Swamp Fox," artist unknown
From The Centennial Book of American Biography by James Dabney McCabe (1876)
(Unless otherwise indicated, all illustrations are courtesy of Wikipedia)

This Week in Military History

February 27, 1795 –Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox," age approximately 63

One of the outstanding folk heroes of the American War of Independence was a South Carolina planter and soldier named Francis Marion. He served in local militia units during the French & Indian War, and served during the Cherokee War (1758-1761). Marion served under Captain William Moultrie, who would become a colonial leader of South Carolina during the War of Independence.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Marion again joined with Moultrie and participated in the defense of Fort Sullivan in Charleston harbor on June of 1776. Congress in the same year commissioned Marion as a lieutenant colonel. In the autumn of 1779 he participated in the siege of Savannah, which ultimately failed.

In the spring of 1780, a British attack on Charleston was successful, and most of the American garrison was captured. However, Marion was not there, convalescing at home with a broken ankle. Shortly after, he organized a small group of 20-70 men, who launched small-scale, hit-and-run raids on British and Loyalist troops, fortification, and supply depots. For the next two years, Marion's guerrillas were nearly the only American troops opposing the British and their allies in the state of South Carolina.

Marion acquired the nickname the "Swamp Fox" from British cavalry officer Col. Banastre Tarleton. After unsuccessfully pursuing Marion's troops for over 26 miles through a swamp, he gave up and swore "[a]s for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him."

At the end of the war, Marion retired to his burnt-down plantation, and needed to borrow money to revive its fortunes. He died at his brother's plantation, and was buried nearby.

Walt Disney Productions produced an eight-episode mini-series about Marion, The Swamp Fox, airing 1959–1961. It starred Leslie Nielsen ("And don't call me "Shirley.") as Marion, and Nielsen also sang the theme song.

Randolph Scott, from film Colt .45 (1950); Image courtesy of
Randolph Scott, from film Colt .45 (1950)
Image courtesy of

March 2, 1987 – George Randolph Scott, age 89

One of the most famous "cowboy star" of Hollywood's Golden age (1930s, 40s, and 50s) was Virginia-born George Randolph Scott. Raised in North Carolina. His family was very well-to-do, so he went to prestigious schools. He was also an accomplished athlete, participating in football, baseball, swimming, and horseback riding.

In 1917, when American entered "The Great War," Scott enlisted in the army serving as an artillery observer for the 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion, 19th Field Artillery. Returning to American in about 1919, he studied first at Georgia Tech then the University of North Carolina. He hoped to become a football star, but a back injury nixed that dream. Finally, he got a job as an accountant in the textile mill run by his father.

In 1927, Scott decided he wanted to become an actor, so he journeyed to Hollywood. Between 1928 and 1931, he was cast in small, mostly walk-on roles or as an extra. Finally, Scott began getting larger roles, but still mostly in "B" movies. It wasn't until 1936, when he was cast as Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans, that Scott received notice as a top-rank actor who was worthy of working in "A" pictures.

For the next 30+ years, Scott made over 100 films, many times being loaned out to a rival studio. Over 60 percent of those films were westerns. Scott was associated with film westerns almost as much as John Wayne. Scott became synonymous with the "tall-in-the-saddle" Western hero.

In 1962,Scott retired from filmmaking after finishing Ride the High Country, directed by neophyte Sam Peckinpah. His co-star was Joel McCrea, an actor with a career path similar to Scott's. Scott died in 1987 at the age of 89.

He is mentioned in the 1974 film Blazing Saddles, when Sheriff Bart tries to convince the reluctant citizens of Rock Ridge to support his plan to save the town. After they refuse, Bart says, "You'd do it for Randolph Scott," and they rise, putting their hands to their hearts and saying reverently, "Randolph Scott," echoed by an off-screen chorus, and agree to help the sheriff.

In 1975, Scott was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. He also received an In Memoriam Golden Boot Award in 1997 for his work in Westerns. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6243 Hollywood Blvd.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.