Memories of a Patriot

During WWII, my father, Jeff Corey, spent over two years in the Pacific as a Navy combat photographer on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. He was in over thirty major engagements and received multiple citations for his service under fire including one that reads, “(Corey’s) sequence of a kamikaze attempt on the carrier Yorktown, done in the face of grave danger, is one of the great picture sequences of the war.” I have been told by a number of people in Hollywood that his footage is used in almost every movie about the war in the Pacific.

In 1951, a few years after the war ended and in the midst of a thriving acting career in Hollywood, my father was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). During the hearing Republican congressmen grilled him about his private political beliefs but refused to hear anything about his war service, his citations, or risking his life for his country. It was a witch-hunt and HUAC only wanted him to give them the names of more people they could go after. He refused and was instantly blacklisted. He didn’t work in movies again for almost twelve years.

My father refusal to cooperate with HUAC had nothing to do with protecting his political affiliations. He understood what the founding fathers were doing when they put the First Amendment into place. He refused to cooperate with HUAC because he did not believe his government had the right to ask him the question in the first place.

There are many ways to serve your country. My father served his in a war. He also served his country with every ounce of his devotion by standing up to Congress and taking a stand for freedom and democracy.

I thank him for his patriotism. I thank him for his service.




4 thoughts on “Memories of a Patriot”

  1. Emily – I am a contemporary of your sister Jane at Cheramoya. I wonder whether your dad shot footage of Iwo Jima. They have actual footage at the start of the movie, The Sands of Iwo Jima. A dear friend of mine was a 2nd Lt in the Marines at Iwo Jima and there is footage of the howitzer battery that he commanded in the Iwo Jima movie. His battery had a pin up picture painted on the side of the Howitzer with the name, “Glamor Girl” beneath. It would be a heck of a coincidence if the footage was shot by your dad. My friend was a great guy but about 20 yrs older than me. He used to joke about the Marines, but it wasn’t until his funeral that I came to understand how gritty his time during WWII.

  2. Jonathan, I don’t think dad was at Iwo Jima. Often photographers who were with other units, as well as photo journalists, would use the Yorktown’s photo lab to develop their film so he might have actually seen the raw footage. He took hundreds of photographs. They’re quite remarkable. But not at Iwo Jima.

  3. Emily – Thanks for responding. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of photography of the war in the Pacific. The quality of the photography is outstanding — the clarity and timeliness — but even more breathtaking is the courage of the photographers who put themselves in the middle of all of the carnage and firepower to take these images. I don’t know if your father ever commented on it, but one would think that someone who experienced the violence and horror of the war in the Pacific up-close would see the threat of the blacklist through a different prism.
    Good luck with your book.

  4. Jeff Corey was also a great actor too he was in beneath the planet of the apes Star Trek and other things thank you for sharing this

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