Here is some of what is found in Steve McQueen's military records, which were recently released:
Excerpt from REUTERS article: U.S. opens military files. Thu Jun 9, 2005 02:15 PM ET
McQueen, who played a rebellious prisoner of war in the film "The Great Escape," was confined for 30 days and fined $90 after being absent without leave from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
McQueen joined the Marines at 17 and worked as a tank driver and mechanic, which the documents indicated may have spurred a lifelong interest in vehicles, especially motorcycles.
He received a commendation for rescuing five Marines in a training accident, and took advantage of military educational benefits to study at the Actors' Studio in New York City.
"An actor named Terrance Steve
McQueen, who they found, lived up to his reputation as a rebel,
"Very similar to his persona in movies. There was a case
where he was AWOL and got 30 days in the brig for going AWOL.
Kind of reminds you of the character he played in The Great
For the first time, the National Archives National Personnel Records Center will open to the public nearly 1.2 million official military personnel files of former U.S. Navy and Marine Corps enlisted personnel who served in the military between 1885 and 1939. This opening will also include 150 official files of "persons of exceptional prominence", including former Presidents, famous military leaders, celebrities, entertainers and professional athletes who served in the military and who died at least 10 years ago.
Why the sudden openness at the
records center? Because millions of old personnel records no
longer belong to the armed forces. Now, they're the property of
the National Archives, which runs the records center here. Until
now, says archivist Eric Voelz, "we were the physical
custodians, but the services were the legal custodians." The
archival program's assistant director, Brian K. McGraw, says:
"For years, historians and genealogists have wanted access.
But they weren't public records. We could open them only to the
veteran himself, to his next of kin or to his branch of the
service." But in 1999, the Pentagon and the National
Archives decided in principle that the records deserved to be
public. Last summer, the final details were worked out. Now, the
records "cease to belong to the military and instead belong
to the American people," says Bill Seibert, chief of the
archival operations branch. "They're public documents."
The center houses military records on 56 million individuals, beginning when the 19th century rolled over into the 20th. "That's when the system of individual military records began," says Seibert. (Earlier records -- most of them handwritten ship's rosters and regimental rolls -- reside in Washington.)