Polemics & Exchanges

Duking It Out

Bravo to Roger D. McGrath for his perceptive defense of John Wayne against liberal snipers (“John Wayne and World War II,” Sins of Omission, December).  As Sergeant Stryker said to Pfc. Benny Ragazzi after he called up a Sherman tank to blast a Japanese pillbox in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), “Ya did all right.”

However, I must point out two errors in his article.  First, Wayne’s nickname (and what he had dubbed his large Airedale terrier) was “Duke,” and not “the Duke,” as is generally perpetuated by the uninformed.  John Ford and other Hollywood intimates always called him Duke.

Second, the Navy aviation pioneer referred to by Dr. McGrath was Cmdr. Frank W. “Spig” Wead, and not “Weed.”  Credited with the concept of “jeep” escort carriers, Wead was portrayed by Duke in Ford’s Wings of Eagles (1957).

        —Michael D. Hull
Enfield, CT

Dr. McGrath Replies:

Nothing escapes the sharp eye of our Chronicles readers!  “Duke,” as Michael D. Hull correctly notes, certainly was John Wayne’s nickname, given to him by firemen in Glendale.  When Wayne walked to school, his...

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