Enlisted at 14, “Grandpa’s War Story Goes Viral” airs Saturday, May 21 at 9 pm

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Grandpa’s War Story Goes Viral

Saturday, May 21 at 9 pm


For Alaskan teenager Henry De Hoop, social media platforms such as Facebook have provided a unique opportunity to share the World War II story of his grandfather, James (Jim) Schmidt, with a global audience. Narrated by Liev Schreiber, GRANDPA’S WAR STORY GOES VIRAL shares the remarkable account of Jim’s World War II service and military career, as well as Henry’s efforts to generate interest in his grandfather’s war journey and launch a letter-writing campaign on his behalf.

World War two italian soldierLike 16 million others of his generation, Jim responded to the national call to duty following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The twist in the story? Jim was only 14 when he enlisted, and the eighth-grade Californian left home without telling his parents. After being wounded in the invasion of Sicily, Jim’s age was eventually revealed and he was sent home. Not to be deterred, Jim would do stints in both the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marines before finally reaching 18 and officially rejoining the Army. Grandson Henry marveled that Jim joined the war effort at the same age he was when he first shared Jim’s story on social media.

GRANDPA’S WAR JOURNEY GOES VIRAL charts a story of service that began in a movie theater in 1942 where the film Parachute Battalion grabbed a boy’s attention and ends in the jungles of Vietnam more than two decades later.