Les Paul Was Dedicated to Veterans

Personal Stories

By Sue Baker

Like most men during World War II, Les Paul was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces. Meredith Willson, who oversaw the Armed Forces Radio Service, arranged for Les to join the AFRS, where he held three jobs.

First, Les learned a great deal about electronics and recording while assigned to the department that produced programs for the AFRS network.

Second, along with his trio, Les did shows lasting 15 to 30 minutes with the popular singers of the day. The trio performed medleys of songs and talked to the soldiers, doing everything they could do to raise the soldiers’ morale.

Les’s third responsibility was to play in Meredith’s AFRS orchestra accompanying the popular dramas, doing whatever the program needed.

Years later, when Les Paul and Mary Ford were on top of the world, they would make a point of taking their guitars into veterans’ hospitals and performing at the patients’ bedsides.

Les Paul’s namesake foundation continues his dedication to veterans with support to Guitars for Vets. The organization helps veterans cope with the trauma they have endured by teaching them how to play guitar and gifting those who complete the program with a new guitar and accessories.

Sue Baker is the program director of the Les Paul Foundation. Hearing Health Foundation is grateful for our long partnership and their ongoing support of tinnitus research through our Emerging Research Grants program. Applications are now open for the next cycle of Emerging Research Grants, due February 29, 2024.