More recently, he acted in the powerful online video, Reveille (which tells the wordless, unforgettable tale
of two older soldiers and a morning flagpole ritual), then produced, directed and acted in the sequel,
Old
Glory
(now available on DVD).

Along the way, he has also been an award-winning author of such well-known books as
Farewell to the
Mockingbirds
(1995), The Heroin Factor (1999), Say Goodnight to the Boys in Blue (2000), The Great Canis Lupus
(2001), and
Tell me a Tale: A Novel of the Old South (2003).

Surprising to some, James considers what he did before acting or writing much more important. As a North
Carolina native who spent his formative years in New Jersey, he served in the U.S. Army before and during
the Korean War. He was wounded (nearly fatally), requiring battlefield surgery (and additional surgeries
afterward in Japan) to save his life. He was eventually awarded both the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

During a recent interview, we asked him to explain why those early years in the armed forces remain so
important to him, compared to the better known career that came later. His answer may surprise you.

I went into the military when I was seventeen, and I knew absolutely nothing about life. The military helped me grow up
and develop the character I would need for the rest of my life.

I joined the Army and stayed in it for three years, mostly in Japan with the 24th Infantry. I came back to America after I
served my time. I was discharged on July 5, 1950, and wouldn’t you know
it, the day after I was discharged, the Army froze all discharges because of what was starting to happen in Korea. I was
pretty upset. I was 20. I had been trained for war. I had learned discipline and regimentation. I had learned to shoot
machine guns and lob grenades. And now I was
missing it.

    One thing I learned in the Army, early on, was integrity. The military of our
    country through the years has been built on a sense of integrity. Even
    though you may or may not like the person standing beside you in a
    uniform, you were trained to serve together with a sense of pride and
    integrity. You knew that teamwork and working together could mean life or
    death. It’s more than discipline. It’s something almost indefinable.

    Even at seventeen years of age, I learned that nothing was impossible, that
    it could be done.
    I learned that truth and dignity were important.

    And I learned to love my country, because it represented the best and
    finest. There was something in all that I learned that tied me to the soldiers
    who fought in the Revolutionary War and every battle since then. It even
    made such an impression on me that the first President of our country was
    also a military man. When the country called him to lead our new nation, he
    wanted to do other things, but duty called him and he was there!

I served during the time leading up to the
Korean Conflict, then I re-enlisted so I
could go to Korea and see some action.
I really wanted to be on the front lines.
They assigned me to an engineering
company, which was the wrong place to
put me. I didn’t want to be an engineer.
I wanted to be in an infantry unit. Finally
I got my wish and ended up with the
Second Division.

We saw a lot of action in Korea. It was
fierce. We were in the Kumwha Valley.
I was reckless and lived dangerously, so
it wasn’t unusual for me to volunteer for
patrols.

On the night of August 11, 1951, we were
on patrol, led by First Lieutenant Henry
Schenk, one of the bravest men I ever knew. He was cut down in a hail of gunfire. Soon afterward, I was injured very
severely, sustaining multiple wounds to the
liver, spleen and both legs.

Eventually I wound up with a Purple Heart and Silver Star, but truthfully I didn’t feel that I deserved the Silver Star, then
or now. Who should have got it was Lieutenant Schenk. His bravery still inspires me.

    A blond-haired young man saved me. I never saw
    him before and never saw him again. He pulled
    me to safety. I was bleeding from different places.
    I had been hit with a grenade and Chinese
    machine gun fire. One of the reasons I went back
    to Korea after I got operated on in Japan was to
    try and find the blond guy that saved me. I wasn’t
    there long the second time, and I never did find
    him.

    In many ways, what I have done through so much
    of my life since then has been an attempt to honor
    those two young man and so many others with
    whom I served who gave their lives so we can
    continue to enjoy our freedom.

    You see the themes through my books. The
    lieutenant in Farewell to the Mockingbird is an
    older version of the blond guy who saved my life.
    In Say Goodnight to the Boys in Blue, the Danny
    Carlton character honors the blond guy, as well. I
    have also tried to honor all the heroes who served
    our country in my latest films, Reveille and Old
    Glory.

    Later, I looked for Lieutenant Schenk’s family for
    over fifty years. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t
    think about him and the ultimate sacrifice he made
    for our country.

And hardly a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the blond-haired soldier who saved my life.

So now, here on MyBestYear.com’s WE WILL REMEMBER, I once again honor these two men.

I offer this tribute to the brave men of the “Indian Head” Second Infantry Division with whom I served in Korea.

And I honor all the “Second to None” men and women (and all those from every military branch) who continue to serve
our country around the globe with pride and courage!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here—as much as I enjoyed my acting career, I don’t want “Actor” on my
tombstone. I want “Soldier!” As crazy as it may seem to some people, I consider what I did in the military and for the
cause of freedom infinitely more important than anything I did as an actor.

As I say on my Voices CD and wherever I am asked to address crowds:
    “No veterans, no democracy.
    No democracy, no America!”

In 2005, James McEachin—known worldwide for his powerful speeches, appearances and tributes in behalf
of the military and veterans' groups—was honored as an Army Reserve Ambassador, giving speeches on
behalf of the military and various veteran's group. This distinction carries the protocol of a two-star general.

Most recently,
Old Glory—written, produced and directed by James McEachin, won the 2007 GI Film Festival
Awards (GIFF), in the Short Film category, announced in Washington, DC at the Ronald Reagan International
Trade Center.

For more information about James McEachin, go to his MyBestYears.com's
INTERVIEW SPOTLIGHT.
JAMES McEACHIN
...Tribute to the Second Infantry Division

James McEachin began his amazing career as an actor during the 1950s. He was
signed by Universal Studios, then cast in numerous roles on television (including
Hawaii Five-O, Mannix and Dragnet) and motion pictures (including Play Misty for Me
with Clint Eastwood).

James is perhaps best known for portraying police lieutenant Brock in the
Perry
Mason
television movie series and Harry Tenafly, the title character in his own NBC
detective series.
Constituted September
21, 1917 in the Regular
Army, the Second
Infantry Division 2nd ID
was organized on
October 26, 1917, at
Bourmont, Haute
Marne, France.

After World War I, the
division was stationed
at Fort Sam Houston, at
San Antonio, Texas, as
one of three divisions
to remain intact and on
Active Duty for the
entire interwar period.
The Indian Head
soldiers served as an
experimental unit,
testing new concepts
and innovations of air
mobility and anti-tank
warfare.

Since that time, the
“Second to None”
Division has served
bravely during World
War II, the Korean
Conflict, and most
recently in Operation
Iraqi Freedom. Today,
the 15,000-strong
Division continues to
serve with distinction
and courage.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.,
honors First Lieutenant Henry Schenk and all the men who
died during the Korean War.
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We honor all troops,
past and present,
who have stood
against tyranny
around the
world to win the May
God bless you!