On January 30th, 2015 in Portland, Oregon, Webmaster Matt went to see Star Trek (2009) with the Oregon Symphony playing the soundtrack live and it was fantastic! But did you know that Star Trek was based on the US Air Force? And that Gene Roddenberry was both a police officer and has flown combat missions?

Here is a short clip from the end of the show.

 

Gene Roddenberry Was A U.S. Combat Pilot

“In 1941, he joined the United States Army Air Corps, which in the same year became the United States Army Air Force. He began training at Goodfellow Field (now Goodfellow Air Force Base) in San Angelo, Texas with other Civilian Pilot Training alums and graduated as a second lieutenant in September 1942, Class G.[11] ”

“He flew combat missions in the Pacific Theatre with the “Bomber Barons” of the 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bombardment Group, of the Thirteenth Air Force and on August 2, 1943, Roddenberry was piloting a B-17E Flying Fortress named the “Yankee Doodle,” from Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, when mechanical failure caused it to crash on take-off. In total, he flew eighty-nine missions for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal before being honorably discharged at the rank of captain in July 1945.” (Source: Wikipedia)

After his military service, he joined the Los Angeles Police Department (Feb. 1, 1949). He became a Police Officer in 1951 and made Sergeant in 1953. It is widely believed that his experience as a combat pilot and police officer molded his vision for the future where “The Federation of Planets” would be a combined exploration, military and police force and later doing diplomatic and scientific missions. He original sold the series as a “Wagon Train To The Stars.”

 Rank Structures In Star Trek Based On United States Navy

“According to Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, Roddenberry’s original idea for the organization of the USS Enterprise was that the ship would be based on a merchant marine type organization with a Captain and various mates overseeing a large crew. In the pilot episode “The Cage”, the only ranks spoken of were Captain, Lieutenant, Chief and Crewman. All officers wore a single rank stripe and, according to Roddenberry, everyone aboard the Enterprise was a qualified astronaut making rank titles a formality since all crewmembers basically had the same type of training.

When the second pilot was being developed (TOS: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”), Roddenberry shifted focus from a merchant marine vessel to a military ship very clearly modeled after the United States Navy. The ranks of Lieutenant Commander and Commander were both spoken of and the Captain (James T. Kirk) wore a “two stripe” insignia to differentiate him from the rest of the crew. When Star Trek: The Original Series came into full production, Ensign and Lieutenant Junior Grade were both either seen or discussed and the concept of staff versus line officers was introduced, most predominately in “Court Martial” where an officer of the Judge Advocate General Corps is seen and Starfleet is referred to as “the service”.” (source: Ex Astris Scientia)

Star Trek Cast Members With Military Service

Individual Star Trek role Branch of service Years of service Service number Final rank
Whit
Bissell
Lurry US Army 1943 – 1945 39 708 296 Sergeant
Elisha
Cook
Samuel
Cogley
US Army 1942 – 1943 39 531 145 Private First Class
Gene
L. Coon
Original Series Producer US Marine Corps 1942 – 19461950 – 1951 442994 Sergeant
Harlan
Ellison
Script Writer
(TOS:
“The
City on the Edge of Forever”)
US Army 1957 – 1959 51 403 352 Private First Class
Morgan
Farley
Hacom/ Yang
Scholar
US Army 1942 – 1945 530425 Second Lieutenant
Paul
Fix
Mark
Piper
US Navy 1918 – 1919 150 83 54 Hospital ApprenticeFirst Class
Fred
Freiberger
Original Series Producer US Army Air CorpsUS Air Force Reserve 1941 – 19461946 – 1957 32001877673530 First Lieutenant
Frank
Gorshin
Bele US Army 1953 – 1955 52 314 745 Not recorded
James
Gregory
Tristan
Adams
US Navy 1942 – 1945 647 86 69 Petty Officer1st Class
Richard
Herd
Owen
Paris
/
L’Kor
US Army 1953 51 214 821 Private
Jeffrey
Hunter
Christopher
Pike
US Navy 1945 – 1946 960 39 80 Seaman1st Class
Roy
Jenson
Cloud
William
US Navy 1944 – 1946 566 72 38 Seaman1st Class
Robert
Justman
Original Series Producer US Navy 1944 – 1946 881 57 18 Petty Officer3rd Class
Brian
Keith
Mullibok US Marine Corps 1942 – 1945 385253 Corporal
DeForest
Kelley
Leonard
McCoy
US ArmyAir Corps 1943 – 1946 39 563 856 Private First Class
Mark
Lenard
Sarek
/
Romulan
commander
/
Klingon
captain
US Army 1943 – 1946 36 858 836 Technical Sergeant
Richard
Matheson
Script Writer (TOS:
“The
Enemy Within”)
US Army 1944 – 1945 12 229 310 Private
Lawrence
Montaigne
Decius/ Stonn US Marine Corps 1947 – 1950 1060247 Private First Class
Joseph
Naradzay
Marine
sergeant
US Marine Corps 1964 – 1990 2030237 Sergeant Major
Leonard
Nimoy
Spock US Army Reserve 1953 – 1955 11 229 770 Sergeant
Nehemiah
Persoff
Palor
Toff
US Army 1942 – 1946 32 698 169 Technician5th Grade
Gene
Roddenberry
Series Creator US ArmyAir Corps 1942 – 1945 662606 Captain
David
Sharpe
Security Guard (TOS:
“Day
of the Dove”)
Stunt Double (TOS:
“Requiem
for Methuselah”)
US ArmyAir Corps 1943 – 1945 522005 First Lieutenant
Ron
Soble
Wyatt
Earp
US Army 1946 – 19481951 – 1953 16 231 53302 103 964 First Lieutenant
Warren
Stevens
Rojan Naval Academy / Army Air Corps 1937 – 1940 (Navy) 139 89 54 Midshipman
Newell
Tarrant
Rogerson US Navy 1966 – 1986 Researching Commander
Harry
Townes
Reger US Army 1942 – 1946 32 792 652 Corporal
William
Windom
Matthew
Decker
US Army 1943 – 1946 33 455 116 Technician5th Grade
Ian
Wolfe
Septimus/ Atoz US Army 1917 – 1919 2371377 Sergeant
Donald
W. Zautcke
Marine
lieutenant
US Marine Corps 1981 – 1985 None First Lieutenant
Anthony
Zerbe
Matthew
Dougherty
Air Force Reserve / Air National Guard 1958 – 1964 28248934 Airman 3rd Class

 

In the end, Star Trek may not have been completely based on the US Air Force, but we will never truly know.  It is known that Gene’s Combat Pilot training and missions were a large factor in his choices of space combat in Star Trek shows.  Also his knowledge of the US Military led to help with ship designs, ideas and naming conventions and the military structure of The Federation in the show.