The Second World War was the biggest – and deadliest -- war in human history. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States began what it declared to be a fight for its very existence, and Americans everywhere responded to the call for help. Of the millions of people who served, a few rose to incredible fame, garnering headlines and pages in history books around the world. In this battle-hardened quiz, what do you know about famous WWII veterans?
No one would forget the face of General Douglas MacArthur. He was a true war celebrity, always donning sunglasses and chomping on a corncob pipe. He gained infamy and loathing during his escape from the Philippines, and then returned to a hero’s welcome. George C. Scott even won an Oscar for playing him.
There were dozens of other major military men who guided U.S. war machines through the conflict. Those names included Chester Nimitz, George Patton, Henry Arnold, Jacob Devers and more. Without their hard-nosed leadership, the Allies may have never defeated the Axis.
Plenty of privates, ensigns and sergeants found fame, too. Let’s see if you can withstand the blitzkrieg of this massive WWII quiz now! How much do you really know about America’s WWII heroes?
He was a five-star general with a reputation for discipline and ferocity. He was Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander for the D-Day invasion.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is probably the most iconic American president of the 20th century. Elected three times, he somehow led the U.S. through most of the Great Depression and WWII.
Ernie Pyle was a famous journalist who wrote from the front lines of the war. He documented people and experiences in a distinctive style that made him a favorite of readers all over the country.
His Higgins boats were his claim to fame. The Higgins boats were used in large numbers during D-Day, depositing tens of thousands of troops on the beaches of Normandy, as the Allies attempted to take control back from Germany.
James Forrestal was a huge proponent of aircraft carriers. He pushed the U.S. to build these massive floating fortresses as centerpieces of war strategy. And his hunches about carriers turned out to be correct.
Hodges was no silver spoon general. He started out as a private and worked his way up through the ranks, and then became a truly famous WWII general.
Robert Oppenheimer was the leader of the Manhattan Project. The project designed, built and tested the world's first nuclear weapons.
Gene Autry was a bona fide celebrity when he enlisted in 1942. He actually served, becoming a flight officer who flew hazardous cargo missions in Asia.
Patton was a loose cannon. He slapped two shell-shocked soldiers in full view of other men … and wound up temporarily losing his command. Later, he returned and won vital victories for the Allies.
LeMay altered bombing tactics to suit the unique characteristics of the Pacific Theater. Noting that Japanese cities used flammable material (like bamboo) for many structures, he switched to incendiary bombs that set entire blocks on fire.
Marshall was called the "organizer of victory" for his efforts in reorganizing and ramping up the U.S. military during the war. Thanks largely to his efforts, the American Army went from mediocre to powerhouse in the span of a few years.
Roosevelt was a major proponent of women becoming active during the war. She encouraged them to get jobs traditionally reserved for men. And she advocated for desegregation of workplaces, too.
Omar Bradley was an Army bigwig during WWII, a general who amassed major victories starting in North Africa. "Brad" took over some duties from the disgraced George Patton and continued his run of success in Europe.
King did his part by enlisting in the Army. But officials sent him home because he was a capable tractor operator … and those skills were more necessary in America than on the Western Front.
Salinger, famous for writing "The Catcher in the Rye," was drafted and served as a soldier in battle. He later used his linguistic skills to interrogate enemy soldiers.
After surviving numerous firefights, Pyle was killed by a sniper on the island of Iejima, during the battle of Okinawa, which occurred near the war's end. Readers everywhere mourned the loss of such a talented storyteller.
Murphy falsified his age so that he could join the Army underage. Later, at just 19 years old, he fought off a whole company of Germany troops by himself … and won the Medal of Honor.
Berra was part of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy. From a Navy ship, he fired weapons toward Omaha Beach in hopes of helping troops gain a foothold on Europe.
Murphy was a war hero turned movie star, one who starred in many westerns. He died in a 1971 plane crash when he was just 46 years old.
When President Roosevelt died, Vice President Truman stepped into office. He was far from a footnote -- he made decisions that changed the course of humanity.
During the war, Claire Lee Chennault was in charge of leading the Flying Tigers. They were a group of top pilots who volunteered to fight for China's benefit against Japan.
It created odd tensions in the U.S. political arena. As America worked with the Soviets to defeat Hitler, Patton openly condemned the communists and said that he would love to fight them in combat.
In a strange twist of fate, Patton guided the Allies to some world-changing battlefield victories. Then he was injured in a 1945 car crash … and died.
In December 1944, German troops launched their last major Western Front offensive. Bradley's men bore the weight of the attack and slowed it, making time for reinforcements to arrive and push back the German assault.
With Japanese soldiers fighting to the death and the possibility of a bloody ground invasion of Japan on the horizon, Truman opted to drop two atomic bombs. Some historians say those attacks may have pushed Japan to finally surrender.
Eisenhower said that boat maker Andrew Higgins helped the Allies win the the war. It was the Higgins boat that allowed the Allies to launch the biggest amphibious assault in human history.
Only a small handful of human beings witnessed the surrenders of both Germany and Japan during WWII. Courtney Hodges was one of them.
Pyle's depictions of the horrors of combat made an impact back home. Officials passed legislation that increased combat soldiers' pay by $10 per month.
Near the end of his war, Patton said that the Nazis were basically just like any other political partly, namely the Democrats in the U.S. His disparaging remarks resulted in the end of his command.
During the war, General Eisenhower became an icon, winning respect from peers and peoples around the world. He easily won the presidency after the conflict ended.