James Doohan — A Hero in the 20th Century as Well as the 23rd

James Doohan Scotty wounded Normandy Invasion

Actor James Doohan (1920-2005) is mostly known for the 23rd century exploits of his character Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in Star Trek. Less widely known are his heroics in the 20th century — most specifically during World War II.

Commissioned a lieutenant in the 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Doohan saw his first combat at Juno Beach on D-Day in the invasion of Normandy. Doohan distinguished himself by shooting two snipers before leading his men to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines. That night he took friendly fire, being shot six times by a nervous Canadian sentry. He took four bullets in his leg, one in his chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet in the chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case that was a gift from his brother. His finger was amputated — a fact that is often a surprise to his fans, since he carefully staged his acting to reduce the hand’s visibility.

While Doohan would ultimately be qualified to command a starship, he began with flight training from the Air Observation Pilot Course 40. He flew the Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft. Although never a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Doohan was once labeled the “craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force” for slaloming a plane between telegraph poles “to prove it could be done.”

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