Mel Brooks

Medic has obtained the military records of Mel Brooks, who enlisted in the Army soon after high school.  Without explanation, only five pages were sent by the National Archives. Curiously, Brooks’ primary MOS is Entertainer, about which little has been written, whereas he trained and served as a combat engineer.

Mel Brooks (real name Melvin James Kaminsky) was born on June 28, 1926 to a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY. One of Hollywood’s most successful directors, he is also a screenwriter, comedian, actor, producer, composer and songwriter, and one of eight artists who have received an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy.

During WWII Brooks was a member the 1104th Engineer Combat Group, a unit frequently in Army Engineers sweeping for mines with SCR-625 Mine Detector, France, 13 July 1944. advance of the front lines and often under artillery, mortar, and sniper fire. Five times it fought as infantry and suffered several casualties. Brooks served briefly as an FO, but his primary task was to deactivate enemy mines.

“War isn’t hell,” he once observed. “War is loud. Much too noisy. All those shells and bombs going off all around you. Never mind death. A man could lose his hearing.” Asked by his son if during the war he thought about “what it would take to rebuild postwar Europe ,” he replied “You thought about how you were going to stay warm that night, how you were going to get from one hedgerow to another without some German sniper taking you out. You didn’t worry about tomorrow.”

Discharged as a corporal, he soon found work as a comedy writer in the new medium of television. His career expanded into acting, directing, and proMEL BROOKS FEARS COMBATducing. His achievements include classic films such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers – in which he skewered his old foes Hitler and the Nazis.

“I was a Combat Engineer. Isn’t that ridiculous? The two things I hate most in the world are combat and engineering.”

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers

Top image-public domain