Army Veteran James Earl Jones is today's Veteran of the Day.

On Star Wars Day, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran James Earl Jones, who served as an Army Ranger following the Korean War.

Before voicing Darth Vader or starring in iconic films like “Field of Dreams,” James Earl Jones was in the Army.

After graduating high school, Jones went to the University of Michigan. He enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program there, where he excelled as a cadet. Jones was in the Pershing Rifles Drill Team and Scabbard and Blade Honor Society.

Jones commissioned in mid-1953, heading to the Infantry Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He later attended Ranger school and helped establish a cold weather training command near Leadville, Colorado. He discharged from the Army as a first lieutenant.

Following his discharge, Jones became the second male African American to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for his work in the movie “The Great White Hope.” He also starred as an Air Force bombardier in Dr. Strangelove and in three movies as a Navy admiral: “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” and “Clear and Present Danger.” He’s received two Tony Awards, an honorary Academy Award, two Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award.

One of his most iconic voice over roles was as Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. Jones initially didn’t take credit for the voiceover work for the first two movies, “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” His voice became so recognizable that Star Wars fans learned during the third movie, “Return of the Jedi,” the former lieutenant was the voice behind the mask.

Thank you for your service and May the Fourth Be With You!

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

By Air Force Veteran Adam Stump is a member of VA's Digital Media Engagement team.

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Published on May. 4, 2020

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

Views to date: 1,083


  1. Ruben M. chuquichanca May 9, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    I always thought you were a great actor, one of bthe few with the courage to defend this great nation. HOOAH!!

  2. Edward Bourke May 6, 2020 at 11:13 am

    I am a Vietnam Veteran. I worked with Mr Jones on the play “Macbeth” in 1966. I was 15 years old. At the time I did not know that Mr. Jones had been in the military. He was always very warm and kind to me. That summer we had done 57 performances touring the parks of the City of New York.. The stories I could tell.I salute you Mr Jones for your service and being a fine and wonderful human being and the summer of 1966.

  3. Charles Johnson May 6, 2020 at 11:09 am

    I have respect for all who accepted the challenge to serve in the armed service as an honorable discharged air Force veteran. No one will ever know how much it cost to be who we are and now that I know Mr. Jones is also a honorably discharged veteran it makes me feel so much better.

  4. David Rabb May 5, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you James Earl Jones for your service! On your shoulders we stand, Hooah!!!

    David D. Rabb (COL, Retired)
    Vietnam Era, OIF/OEF/OND, Combat Veteran

  5. A.Francis May 5, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Why not give this honor to combat vets, just because you served in the military does not make you a hero.. Please no disrespect to Mr Jones, but give credit where its due..

    • A G May 6, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      Veteran 1st Lt. Jones (Ret.), Mr. Jones is worthy of the #VeteranOfTheDay honor as an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

    • William Anderson May 6, 2020 at 10:54 pm

      I can not fully grasp that some people that did serve ln a combat zone feel that they are the only ones to be considered a hero. I am a airforce veteran that served in the VietNam era but never had PCS orders to go to Nam. I was however all over South East Asia including Viet Nam and all surrounding areas as a flight crew member. I have seen many people do the same job that those are in a combat zone do with just as much urgency. I think they are heroes also but they don’t tout it. Combat area personnel could not do there job without their help. Just saying.

      • David J D'Arcy May 9, 2020 at 8:54 am

        I agree. I first served in the Navy, then the Air National Guard. Deployed many times. The sword has many parts. From the tip, blade, hilt, and handle, they all fit together to make a weapon. But, although we squires have our place. We may not be heros, but without us squires, there’d be no knights. God bless our brave knights. I’m just grateful I could serve them!

    • Michael Jermain May 6, 2020 at 11:23 pm

      I believe the honor is for #VeteranoftheDay not Combat Veteran. There’s plenty of veterans who wear the Vietnam Combat Ribbon that never were in actual combat but were in country does that make them any less a Combat Veteran? or are you angry about Mr. Jones being honored for another reason?

  6. Sovereign Mary May 4, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    James Earl Jones – An Absolutely Superb Actor!

  7. Senior Veterans Care Network May 4, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for your service James Earl Jones, and May the Fourth Be With You!

Comments are closed.

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