The Wonder Years Star Who Served In The US Military

By Ethan Cole on
 December 14, 2021

Dan Lauria may be known for his roles in The Wonder Years, Sullivan and Son, and JAG, but few people know that the talented actor was also a Marine.

Early Life

Lauria is from Long Island, N.Y., and his father was a truck driver. Lauria played football, and his friend's parents worked for Grumman, the predecessor to Northrup Grumman.

Lauria described it as "very blue-collar." His father served in the Army during World War II. He was one of the initial Americans to go into Muhlhausen, Germany, a town with a concentration camp.

Lauria told We Are The Mighty, "For the rest of his life, he didn't have problems looking at war movies, but if he saw anything about the Holocaust, he would get violently sick."

Time In The Military

Lauria was an Infantry Officer with the Marine Corps, heading for Vietnam, but his unit was stopped in Okinawa. While in Okinawa, Lauria trained the ARVN on calling in airstrikes. He went into the country until his unit was attacked by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army.

His unit was then ordered out. Race was an issue at the base in Okinawa, so Lauria taught Black History classes once a week.

After, he went to Quantico for football and taught Human Relations to colonels and generals at The Basic School. The Commander of The Basic School, Colonel Schultz, ordered Lauria to get the Marine Corps involved in the community, another tough task.

"We didn't even wear our dress uniform flying home. It was getting bad back then with the protesting," said Lauria. He was a problem solver, and the Marines participated in Big Brothers with inner-city kids on the weekends.

Kennedy Assassination

Lauria was the Range Officer on the Marine Corps Kennedy Assassination investigation. The Corps reconstructed the scene and ran scenarios.

They brought in expert marksman retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel William McMillian, who was one of the best shooters in the Corps. Lauria said McMillian reminded him that they were there to figure out the shooting facts, not who did it.

Lauria told We Are The Mighty that he has enjoyed all of the projects he has worked on, from The Wonder Years to Sullivan and Sun, JAG, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and others.

He said he looks forward to the next project and works with theaters doing Celebrity Read to help regional theaters stay open.

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