In an interesting turnaround, Frank Sutton, whose best-known role was playing a Marine Sergeant, could not pass the U.S. Marine Corps physical during World War II, and ended up serving in the U.S. Army. While serving in the U.S. Army, Sutton distinguished himself by taking part in fourteen assault landings, including Leyte, Luzon, Bataan, and Corregidor.
Carter's decorations are: Bronze Star (2), Purple Heart, Navy Presidential Unit Citation (2), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (3), World War Two Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal (4 Campaigns), U.N. Service Medal, and a Korean Presidential Unit Citation. In addition, Carter wears Expert Rifleman and Expert Pistol marksmanship badges.
During the run of the show, Gomer's highest ranking was Private First Class. In 2001, the U.S. Marines honored Jim Nabors, with an honorary promotion to Lance Corporal. In 2007, the U.S. Marines honored him a second time, with an honorary promotion to Corporal.
The show ended after five seasons, despite good ratings, because Jim Nabors announced he wanted to do a musical-variety show, which became The Jim Nabors Hour (1969), running from 1969-1971. The producers considered continuing this show, using the remaining regular cast (much as The Andy Griffith Show (1960) became Mayberry R.F.D. (1968) after Griffith left), but when Frank Sutton and Ronnie Schell announced that they were joining Nabors on his new show, the plans were dropped.
Andy Griffith said that when they were trying to come up with an idea for a spin-off for Gomer, they wanted the toughest location or situation, in which they could put him. So they came up with the U.S. Marines. The idea was to pit Gomer's gentle character against the tough setting, and it worked.
Although Gomer joining the U.S. Marines was originally depicted in a fifth season episode of the The Andy Griffith Show (1960), this was apparently ignored when the series began filming its regular run. In the Griffith episode, the character of Sergeant Carter is introduced to both the audience and Gomer. Andy Taylor tells Carter a few tall tales about Gomer's lineage in hopes he will treat him better. However, in the first regular Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964) episode, Gomer is seen getting a signature military haircut still in his civilian clothes. Carter has never met him.
The pilot, which aired as the season four finale of The Andy Griffith Show (1960), placed the base as Camp Wilson in North Carolina. However, when the series was launched, the location was changed to Camp Henderson in California.
The only regular character associated with the platoon not to get promoted during the series run was Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter. All Privates in the platoon were promoted by the end of the first season two episode.
Originally, CBS rejected the show, because they felt that many female viewers would be put off by a show with a military theme. However, when Producer Danny Thomas threatened to take the show to NBC, CBS changed their minds.
Lieutenant Colonel Gray's medals are: Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Legion Of Merit (Legionnaire), Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic/Pacific Campaign Medal (three Campaigns), Navy Unit Commendation, Korean Service Medal (four Campaigns), U.N. Service Medal, and Korean Unit Citation.