On June 6, 2019, the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the landings that saved Europe from tyranny. As former President Barack Obama said, “so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.”
Among the hundreds of thousands of Allied troops who assaulted the German strongholds along the coast that day were not just Americans and British troops but also 14,000 Canadian troops who were solely responsible for taking Juno Beach, near the village of Bernieres.
And right in the middle was one man whose catchphrase later in life would sum up the spirit of that day: “I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Captain.”
Join us in remembering James Doohan, best known to Trek fans as Scotty in Star Trek: The Original Series, on what would have been his 96th birthday bit.ly/JamesDoohanData
James Doohan, better known to the world as “Scotty,” a.k.a. Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He joined the Canadian artillery during World War II and was sent to England in 1940. It was during his service there that he made great friends with a fellow soldier from Scotland, who taught Doohan the unique accent and expressions that would make him famous on Star Trek.
When the opportunity arose for the Allies to liberate France in the summer of 1944, Doohan and Canadian troops were a vital part of the operation. They landed at Juno beach 24 hours after had been originally planned due to terrible weather. With his characteristic sense of humor, Doohan told the Associated Press “we were more afraid of drowning than we were of the Germans.”
— Star Trek (@StarTrek) June 6, 2019
When the morning of June 6 came, Doohan led his men against heavy fire and lethal mines up the beach. He even killed two German snipers who had been picking the Canadians off down the beach. His unit got to higher ground and were able to catch their breath before pushing on.
As night fell, some of the Canadian soldiers couldn’t tell the difference between their units and the Germans, since so many men were packed onto a small beachfront. When Doohan pulled out a metal zippo lighter to smoke, a Canadian soldier mistook him for a German and shot him six times; one of the shots blew off his finger.
Doohan survived and went on to learn how to fly military reconnaissance planes, being called “the craziest pilot in the Canadian air force” after he flew his plane between two telegraph poles.
— Star Trek (@StarTrek) March 3, 2018
After the war, Doohan would go into acting, playing many roles on radio, theater, and TV, but finally making his big break on Star Trek, which ran from 1966 to 1969. As engineer Montgomery Scott, his character was famous for his comic relief as he attempted to keep the ship in one piece regardless of the dangerous situations that the Enterprise got into.
Never shirking from duty, he always managed to do what was needed, even when it seemed improbable or impossible. While Doohan went to have many other roles in his long career, people still remember him from his great performance alongside William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. As his dentist told him in 1973, according to the Guardian, “You’re going to be Scotty long after you’re dead. If I were you, I’d go with the flow.”
Doohan took the advice and never looked back. While he’ll always be Scotty for Star Trek fans, on this 75th anniversary of D-Day, he should also be remembered as one of the thousands of brave soldiers who liberated Europe from tyranny. A truly impressive accomplishment indeed.
— Star Trek (@StarTrek) July 20, 2014