Today, February 12th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1960 premiere of "The Purple Testament."
William Reynolds starred as U.S. Army Lieutenant William 'Fitz' Fitzgerald, a war-weary officer fighting in the Philippines during the waning days of the Pacific War. It seems that Fitz has a unique though unsettling ability to know which of his men is going to die next – he sees it in their faces, an unholy glow that portends their doom.
If Rod Serling was going to write a World War II story inspired by his own experience as a combat paratrooper in the Philippines, it wasn't going to be a gung-ho, kick-ass kind of yarn. Serling's time in war was pure hell. His paratroop outfit got shot up in its first landing; he and his men were woefully undersupplied, and it took forever to get that supply replenished. Serling also saw one of his best friends crushed to death right in front of his eyes by a supply drop. This episode, like the other first season WWII episode "Quality of Mercy," is bereft of patriotic fervor, but still delivers memorably.
Dick York portrays Fitz's commanding officer, Captain Phil Riker – the following season he would star in "A Penny for Your Thoughts." And Barney Phillips, the diner cook in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?," portrays Captain Gunther, the company medical officer.
So let's hoist a beer to Fitz and his uncanny ability to predict the future in a dark corner of a soldier's world on a well-traveled battlefield we call The Twilight Zone.