Hank Greenberg - World War II Service

World War II Service

The Detroit draft board initially classified Greenberg as 4F for "flat feet". Rumors that he had bribed the board and concern that he would be likened to Jack Dempsey, who had received negative publicity for failure to serve in World War I, led Greenberg to be reexamined, and he was found fit to serve.

Drafted in 1940, the first American League player to be drafted, his salary was cut from $55,000 ($912,000 today) a year to $21 ($300 today) a month. Greenberg was not bitter, however, stating, "I made up my mind to go when I was called. My country comes first." After most of the 1941 season, however, he was honorably discharged when the United States Congress released men aged 28 years and older from service, being released on December 5, 1941, two days before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Greenberg re-enlisted and volunteered for service in the United States Army Air Forces, again the first major league player to do so. He graduated from Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the USAAF. He eventually served overseas in the China-Burma-India Theater, scouting locations for B-29 bomber bases. Promoted to captain, Greenberg served 45 months, the longest of any major league player.

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