Today, May 27, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia would like to take a moment and remember the significance of Rod Serling's military career on this Memorial Day weekend.
Not exactly the poster boy for a paratrooper, the very patriotic Serling was determined to join this celebrated branch of the U.S. Army when Pearl Harbor was attacked. His determination paid off and Rod was shipped out to the Pacific in the latter stages of the war, assigned to the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division.
His combat experience in the Philippines was a series of nightmarish encounters, events that would shape his writing career and political views for the rest of his life. One of his best friends, Melvin Levy, was sitting under a palm tree when a supply crate was dropped on his head, killing him instantly. His unit was under fire many times, and in the bloody battle of Tagaytay Ridge and later in the siege of Manila, Serling saw death from every angle. He was wounded a number of times, and later in life it was not uncommon to watch him play paddle tennis and see shrapnel working its way out of his legs.
When you watch episodes like "The Purple Testament" and "A Quality of Mercy," keep in mind that Serling was writing from personal experience. He saw no glory in war.
So on this day when we salute all veterans everywhere, let's raise a canteen to Rod Serling, who somehow survived the horrors of World War II, channeled his terrors into writing, and created the greatest TV show of all time: The Twilight Zone.