James Doohan was a real life war hero as well as a brilliant chief engineer on Star Trek, and to one female fan, he was a life-saver.
I recently discovered more about James Doohan when I wrote an article about a Canadian stamp being released in his memory. I always knew Scotty was a legend, but I didn’t realize just how much of a legend he actually was until I stumbled upon a fascinating story. I knew that he was a real-life war hero, having stormed the Normandy beaches. Leading his men through a minefield, Doohan personally took out 2 German snipers but took multiple rounds to his legs and his hands; he even lost his middle finger on one of them. He took one round to the chest but a metal cigarette case saved his life. After recovering from his injuries, Doohan became a pilot in the Canadian Air force but he never saw action. One of his comrades labeled him “the craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force.”
After the war, Doohan joined a Canadian drama school and starred in several theatre productions before catching his lucky break and heading out to explore the stars. He had a big influence on the production of the Star Trek from the very beginning and he was the one who decided Scotty was a Scot. He is even thought to have had a big hand in creating the sound of the Klingon language. Even though his contributions to the show were huge, Doohan’s biggest achievement involved saving a young fans life.
Before he sadly passed away, Doohan revealed that he received a distressing letter from a woman who’d been depressed for some time and was considering taking her own life. Doohan was determined to do what he could and called her, inviting her to a Star Trek convention in Indianapolis. She showed up to the convention and he made her promise to come to the next one. When she showed up for that one, he made her come to the next and kept doing this and meeting her, offering kind words and advice.
She came to 18 Star Trek conventions in total before she stopped and Doohan then lost contact with her. He feared for the worst when the letters stopped arriving but some years later, she sent one final letter. She wrote to say that she was alive and well and that she was extremely happy because she’d just received a Masters in Electronic Engineering, all thanks to Scotty. In the video above, Doohan talks about this experience and what it meant to him. You don’t have to be a Trekkie to appreciate the value of this story.
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