Commander Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr., US Naval Reserve Screen actor Douglas Fairbanks Junior had an amazingly successful military career during WWII. Serving in the US Navy, the details of his involvement were kept secret for many years after the war. He was involved in planning extremely technically difficult and important operations at the highest level, and demonstrated extreme bravery in executing these operations. At a time before the American military had developed any kind of commando operation capability, Fairbanks was attached to British Commando units under Lord Louis Mountbatten. Working alongside the British early in the War, he took part in many cross–channel harrassment operations where the art of deception played a major role. He was even to lead British commandos during operations at one stage. Consequently, he developed a deep understanding of the art of military deception, and his expertise in this field was then sold to the US High Command who were preparing their forces for the invasion of North Africa. Fairbanks convinced the top brass in America that a deceptive unit would be invaluable, and the ‘Beach Jumper’ program was born. The idea of the Beach Jumpers was to deceive the enemy into believing that a particular location was to be the main site for amphibious landings of invasion forces. This would be carried out using limited manpower, and result in the enemy diverting men and machines in large numbers to the wrong place! The operations were first tried out during the Invasion of Sicily in 1943, where Fairbanks courageously led a landing party ashore and established important positions while exposed to enemy rifle fire. For this he was awarded the Silver Star. Operations continued throughout the Meditteranean for the remainder of the War. For his part in the assault on Southern France, Lt. Commander Fairbanks was awarded the U.S. Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valor). The citation for this award reads: On the morning of August 17, when two hostile vessels attacked a group of smaller craft, he courageously led the ships of his unit into action and, aggressively directing the combat operations with expert seamanship against heavy odds, greatly aided in the ultimate sinking of the two vessels. By his brilliant leadership and steadfast devotion to duty throughout this vital period, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks contributed materially to the successful invasion of a highly strategic area. After the War he rose to the rank of Captain, and his other wartime awards included: The Italian War Cross for Military Valour; The French Legion d'Honneur; The Croix de Guerre with Palm; The British Distinguished Service Cross. Finally, he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1949. He died in May 2000.