Melvin Kaminsky was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 at the age of 17 while attending Brooklyn college. He reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for basic training. After completing basic training, Melvin was sent to fight in Europe.
Melvin served as a combat engineer in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division. His job was to diffuse and deactivate enemy land mines. His unit often scouted in advance of the front lines and would regularly come under enemy fire. Melvin and his unit also fought at the Battle of the Bulge, though he would later say that he wasn’t at the center of the action.
Melvin was discharged in 1946 and awarded the WW2 Victory Medal. Melvin changed his name to Mel Brooks and embarked on a long career in comedy, television, and film.
Watch Mel discuss his military service with Conan.