Fred Rogers: Not Your Marine Sniper or Navy SEAL Neighbor

Every once in awhile, the meme appears on Facebook or in a mass-forwarded email: Prior to his career in the long-running PBS show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers was a highly-decorated sniper in the US Marines.

Recently, the rumor of his previous career as a trained killer has surfaced in the form that Rogers served as a US Navy SEAL during the war.

The “proof” is often cited by the fact he never revealed his arms on television—his consistent choice of long sleeves was to hide many tattoos.

He was, however, neither a Marine nor a SEAL. In fact, he never served in the military at all.

Fred Rogers was born in 1928, making him too old to have enlisted in the service during the Vietnam War. Directly out of high school, he attended college—and upon graduation, he began working in television.

The choice of long sleeves was to create a sense of formality with children, as well as with their parents; this was what prompted nearly everyone to call him Mr. Rogers and rarely, if ever, Fred.

A similar rumor continues Bob Keeshan—more commonly known as Captain Kangaroo.

The story that prevails is that he fought alongside actor Lee Marvin at Iwo Jima during World War II. Marvin was a Marine who fought in the Battle of Saipan and was wounded there (not at Iwo Jima), but Keeshan enlisted in the Marines shortly before the war’s end and never saw action.



QUESTION: Coach, what sniper gear do Navy SEALs prefer?

ANSWER: Check out this article: Navy SEAL Sniper Gear List.

QUESTION: Hi, Coach. Lately I’ve been a mess of knots in my neck and back and stretching isn’t doing anything. Got any tips?

ANSWER: Yes; check out this article on how to use two lacrosse balls for mobility.



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