Alaska Veterans Museum

Military History – Veteran’s Stories

This day in history – July 26, 1942:

About 400 miles southeast of Fiji, the American aircraft carriers Wasp, Enterprise and Saratoga rendezvous with the invasion force for Guadalcanal. It is the most powerful force the US Navy has yet assembled in the Pacific.

CAPT Joy Bright Hancock appointed Director, Women’s Naval Reserve.

​Actor Gene Autry is sworn into the Army Air Corps on the air, during his regular radio show, Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch. He served as an officer until 1945, when he resumed his show. Autry was born in Tioga, Texas, in 1907, the son of a livestock and horse trader who was also a Baptist minister. The family later moved to Oklahoma. In high school, Autry worked as a railway telegrapher at the local railroad depot, where he spent slow moments strumming his $8 guitar and singing. Passing through the depot one day, a stranger who turned out to be Will Rogers-suggested that Autry try singing on the radio. Inspired, Autry traveled to New York City to look for a singing job but had no luck. Back home, he began working for a local radio station and found success as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy.” Eventually, Autry and railroad dispatcher Jim Long wrote several country songs, including the world’s first gold record, “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine.” Autry became a regular on National Barn Dance, the forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1934, producer Nat Levine was looking for an actor who could sing and ride a horse. Autry wasn’t an actor but had already established a loyal radio audience, so Levine put him in numerous B-grade westerns. Playing the lead role in a long-running series of Saturday matinee films, Autry became America’s favorite singing cowboy. In 1940, his musical-variety radio show, Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch, debuted; it ran until 1956. He became America’s favorite TV cowboy in 1950 when he debuted The Gene Autry Show, which ran through 1956. In each episode, he and his sidekick, Pat Buttram, rode from town to town, maintaining law and order. From “Back in the Saddle Again” to yuletide mainstays such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” Autry’s music became part of American life. He was also an entrepreneur, owning hotels, gas stations, and the California Angels baseball team, among other ventures. He also owned a television production company and was proud of discovering “Annie Oakley” star Gail Davis, whom he featured in dozens of his movies and television program episodes and who had performed in his traveling rodeo. Her appearances spun off into her own series, which Autry’s company produced. Autry was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969. Autry died in 1998.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27EUNC8OjV8