Rod Serling went on to create The Twilight Zone after experiencing some surreal events in World War II.
Maureen Dowd shares this version:
Serling also had a devastating experience while serving in World War II. During a lull at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific, he was standing with his arm around a good friend and they were having their picture taken. At that moment, an Air Force plane dropped a box of extra ammunition that landed on Serling’s friend and flattened him so fatally that he couldn’t even be seen under the box.
“Many ‘Zone’ episodes are about that split-second of fate where somebody arbitrarily gets spared or, absurdly, does not,” Brode said.
Tom Ricks reports a different version:
Wikipedia reports that Serling was in the 11th Airborne Division, and that the incident he witnessed was slightly different, that a private named Melvin Levy “was in the middle of a comic monologue as the platoon sat resting under a palm tree when a food crate dropped from above, decapitating him as the men watched.”