May 26, 2021

College Football Hall of Fame Memorial Day Blog

Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official holiday in 1971. To date, The College Football Hall of Fame has 306 players and 86 coaches who have served in the military. Our of the 392 Hall of Fame inductees, 14 made that sacrifice. We celebrate our rich military heritage this Memorial Day and every day with free admission for all active-duty military and veterans of all branches, year-round.

Cuban War of Independence

Winchester Osgood – Halfback - Cornell 1889 – 1889, 1891-1892 – Pennsylvania – 1893-1894

Winchester Osgood played halfback for four years for Cornell from 1888-1889 and 1891-1892, and two for Pennsylvania 1893-1894. During his time at Cornell, the team had a record of 28-8 and 24-3 at Penn. In 1894, he led Penn to a 12-0 record and a national championship. When Cuba began its fight for independence from Spain, Osgood volunteered for the Cuban forces becoming a commissioned major in artillery. In 1898, the United States would join the fight which is now known as the Spanish American War.

World War I

Hobey Baker – Quarterback – Princeton – 1911-1913

Hobart (Hobey) Baker was a great football player and perhaps the finest amateur hockey player this country has ever known.  He was the first American-born player elected to the International Hockey Hall of Fame.  He was fast and elusive skating on ice or running on a football field.  As a punt return specialist, Hobey Baker would watch the ball in flight and time himself, so he caught it on the dead run.  He never fumbled a punt, and he had runs up to 88 yards.  In 1911, Princeton had an 8-0-2 record.  Baker returned 13 punts, a school record, against Yale.  In 1912, he scored 92 points as Princeton went 7-1-1.  In 1913, Baker was captain, and his team was 5-2-1.  Princeton tied Yale 6-6 in 1912, 3-3 in 1913, and all Princeton points in those games were Hobey Baker field goals.  The longest was 41 yards.  He learned drop kicking from a Princeton immortal, Snake Ames.  The hockey team was 27-7 in his time.  He was captain as a junior and declined re-election.  He was the most popular man on campus and moved to New York as a stockbroker.  He continued to play amateur hockey and excelled at golf, tennis, baseball, and polo.  He learned to fly a plane and in 1917 joined the US forces fighting in Europe.  He was captain and commander of the 141st Pursuit Group.  Baker downed three German planes.  On Dec.21, 1918, a month after the war ended, Hobey Baker took a plane on a test run.  The plane crashed.  Baker, age 26, was killed.  His name is preserved in many ways.  Princeton dedicated the Hobart Baker Rink.  There is the Hobey Baker Award, established in 1979 for college hockey's best player.  At Tours, France, where his plane crashed, a sports complex is named for him.

Charley Barrett – Quarterback – Cornell – 1913-1915

Charles Barrett was a triple-threat quarterback for Cornell.  He ran the ends, bucked the line, threw passes, punted, and drop-kicked.  He was a consensus All-America in 1914 and 1915, years in which Cornell had a record of 8-2, then 9-0.  The 1915 team was national champion.  Barrett's best game was his last.  Pennsylvania got off to a 9-0 lead, but Cornell rallied to win 24-9.  Barrett scored all the Cornell points.  He had touchdown runs of 40, 25 and 3 yards, and he drop-kicked a field goal and three extra points.  His performance in this game would later be memorialized by both teammates and opponents.  Barrett enlisted in the Navy in World War I, suffered an injury in an explosion in 1918 and died in 1924.  On October 17, 1925, a bronze tablet was unveiled in Schoellkopf Memorial Hall on the Cornell campus.  It contains these words: "In memory of Charles Barrett, who died May 21, 1924, because of illness contracted in an explosion on the U.S.S. Brooklyn in Yokohama Harbor, Japan, during the World War.  As a tribute to his splendid loyalty and leadership and as homage to a most worthy gridiron adversary, we respectfully dedicate this tablet to Cornell University.  - His teammates and friends, and the 1915 Pennsylvania football team."

Gary Cochran – End – Princeton - 1894 – 1897

Under captain Gary Cochran, the 1896 Tigers have been ranked as the best Princeton team of football's Pioneer Era.  The Tigers crushed archrival Yale, 24-6, and finished with a 10-0-1 record.  Over the next two seasons, the Orange and Black were 20-1-1, as Cochran was noted for his great leadership and play when he was named All-America in 1897.  He enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 7, 1917 and served as a lieutenant in the Field Artillery in France.

World War II

Al Blozis – Tackle – Georgetown – 1939 - 1941

Al Blozis played tackle for Georgetown University 1939-1941, and the team posted records of 7-0-1, 8-2, 5-4 in those three seasons.  He also was national collegiate champion in the shot put and in 1941 set a world indoor record in the shot put, 56 feet 4 1/2 inches.  He stood 6-6 in height and weighed 245-pounds.  When World War II broke out, he was too tall for service.  He joined the New York Giants and was an all-pro tackle.  In 1944 military standards were changed, and Blozis went into service.  He became an Army captain and was sent to France with General Patton's Third Army.  Two weeks after arriving there, he was killed by machine gun fire.  The date was January 31, 1945.  The Army citation following his death paid tribute to his leadership and courage by stating: "Captain Blozis went into the forest to help rescue a soldier who had been wounded.  He was killed at this time."  The Army named an athletic center in Frankfurt, Germany, for Blozis.

Paul Bunker – Halfback – Army – 1899-1902

Competition breeds no greater compliment than the praise and respect of an opponent.  Paul Bunker earned such regard as a versatile member of the Army teams of the turn of the century.  However, it was not until many years later that Bunker learned of a particular foe's praise.  Bunker had ended his playing career in the 1902 Army-Navy game, running wild against the Middies leading the Cadets to a 22-8 victory.  He scored two touchdowns on offense and had spent much of the afternoon punishing Navy's star back, Ralph Strassburger, while on defense.  Several years had passed when the two met up again, this time in the Philippines.  "Bunker," Strassburger said, "I hate you. Let's have a drink."  Walter Camp described Bunker as a battering ram who outclassed all other backs and was a first-class defensive tackle.  Bunker is one of just a handful of athletes to win All-America mention at two different positions.  He won All-America honors as a tackle in 1901 and in 1902 at both halfback and tackle.  A World War II Army colonel, Bunker commanded the harbor defense at Manila and surrendered during the fall of Corregidor on May 6, 1942.  He died for his country as a prisoner of war.

Nile Kinnick – Halfback – Iowa – 1937-1939

In addition to capturing the Heisman Trophy, Iowa's Nile Kinnick was named the nation's Outstanding Male Athlete for 1939.  Kinnick was the picture of football brilliance that season, leading Iowa to a 6-1-1 record while running, passing, or kicking for 107 of the Hawkeyes' 130 points. Nile led the nation in kickoff return yardage (377 yards) and was second in interceptions with eight.  The Heisman, Maxwell, and Walter Camp trophies would go to the 5-8, 167-pound back, as well. He was a three-time all-conference player capturing the MVP honors as a senior. It is believed that he played through the 1938 season with a broken ankle. With World War II having begun a few months before, his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech is one of the most eloquent ever delivered. A Phi Beta Kappa scholar in pre-law, Kinnick spurred countless offers to play pro football, deciding instead to attend law school. He was a pilot in the Navy Air Corps in World War II and died in a plane crash off the coast of Venezuela.

Bill Mallory – Fullback – Yale 1921-1923

If there was such a person as the true All-America, it must have been Bill Mallory, Yale's excellent fullback of the early 1920's, Mallory was an inspirational leader who was willing to make the sacrifices to become a scholar and athlete.  When he left Yale in 1923, Mallory was voted the outstanding man in his graduating class.  As a sophomore, Mallory led the Bulldogs to an 8-1-0 record, marred only by a loss to archrival Harvard.  However, there would be no blemishes on the Yale eight-game campaign two years later.  After a 6-3-1 record in 1922, the Yalies found perfection in 1923, outscoring the competition, 230-38.  Mallory, a native of Memphis, was the backfield thrust in that spectacular campaign, running, blocking, and catching passes with an ease and fluid motion rarely seen in a fullback.  Years later, Mallory became a U.S. Army Air Force intelligence officer and rose to the rank of Major during World War II, gaining wide-spread acclaim for his "Operation Mallory", a tactical plan which cut 22 of 24 bridges spanning the Lo River in Lombardy, thus helping to cut German supply lines into Italy.  Mallory was taking off from Italy in 1945, on his way home for discharge, when his plane crashed, and he was killed.

Joe Routt – Guard - Texas A&M – 1935-1937

They were not the most successful years for Texas A&M football teams, yet lineman Joe Routt turned the mid-1930s into seasons of personal glory and achievement that established him as one of the Aggies' all-time great players. Routt was big, powerful, and aggressive.  Opposing coaches often assigned three linemen to contain him, and still he cracked through the line to make the tackle. Famed sportswriter Grantland Rice had this to say of Routt: "He was a glutton for hard, all-afternoon play and was at his best when the going was toughest. Routt used a system of stacking up a whole side of the opposing line, thereby breaking up a play and allowing a teammate to make a tackle."  Routt appeared in the annual East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco and was named the game's Outstanding Lineman.  Routt went to war in 1940 as an U.S. Army Infantry Captain and was killed in action, leading his troops in the Battle of the Bulge, December 10, 1944, in Belgium.  He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1952 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1962.  His citation read: "In war as in football, Joe Routt was a true leader of men, ever prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice."

Dave Schreiner – End – Wisconsin – 1940-1942

Badger great Dave Schreiner became the finest end in Wisconsin's history.  In 1941, when the Badgers struggled through an unimpressive 3-5-0 campaign, Schreiner stood well above his peers and drew first-team All-America laurels.  He was even more impressive the next year when his receiving abilities lifted Wisconsin to one of its best records.  The senior co-captain and unanimous All-America led the Badgers to an 8-1-1 record.  Only a 6-0 loss to powerful Iowa and a 7-7 tie with Notre Dame marred the Wisconsin record.  Badger coach Harry Stuhldreher, the quarterback in Notre Dame's famed Four Horsemen backfield of 1924, had high praise for Schreiner that year, pointing to Schreiner's Big Ten Most Valuable Player citation as a most deserved award.  Schreiner never stopped drilling himself in the fine art of receiving.  However, his dedication was not limited to his gridiron career.  After leaving Wisconsin, he joined the service and requested combat duty during World War II.  Schreiner was killed in action in Okinawa.

Waddy Young – End – Oklahoma - 1936- 1938

Walter “Waddy” Young became one of the first player from his era to bring national attention to Oklahoma. In 1938, he was named a consensus All-America selection while also earning All-Conference honors in 1937 and 1938. Following graduation, he played two years professionally for the Brooklyn Dodgers football team before giving up his football career to join the United States Army Air Corps serving in the European and Pacific Theatres.

Vietnam War

Jim Holder – Halfback - Oklahoma Panhandle State – 1958, 1961-1963

Holder, a decorated NAIA athlete, set single-season records rushing 273 times for 1,775 yards. He was OPSU’s first College Football Hall of Fame inductee. He enlisted in the Army after graduation, while also playing semi-pro football.

Don Holleder – End – Army – 1953-1955

Don Holleder made first-team All-America end in 1954 and seemed certain to repeat in 1955.  But Army needed a quarterback, and Coach Earl Blaik asked Holleder to switch.  The decision looked bad as Army split its first four games and Holleder completed only three passes.  Then Holleder led Army to victory in four of the last five games.  In October 1967, in dense jungle 40 miles northwest of Saigon, Major Holleder, 33, operations officer for a brigade of the First Infantry Division, rushed to the aid of troops who had been ambushed by the Viet Cong.  He was hacking a clearing for medical helicopters when enemy machine-gun fire cut him down.  An Army medic who was a witness, Pfc. Thomas Hinger, said, "What an officer.  He went ahead of us - running in the point position."  In 1973 his high school, Aquinas, in Rochester, New York, dedicated Major Don Holleder Memorial Stadium.  On October 1, 1988, the U.S. Military Academy dedicated Holleder Center.  Near the Holleder Center is another monument.  On it are carved these words of General Douglas MacArthur: "Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory."

U.S. War in Afghanistan

Pat Tillman – Linebacker – Arizona State - 1994-1997

Pat Tillman was the first-ever Arizona State player to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year.  He was a two-time First-Team Academic All-Pac 10 selection and led the 1996 ASU team to a berth in the Rose Bowl. Led by Tillman, the Sun Devils defeated the two-time defending national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. This snapped their 26-game winning streak and was the first time Nebraska was shut out in 47 games. Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals where he spent four seasons before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He served tours as an Army Ranger in Iraqi Freedom (2003), and Operation Enduring Freedom (2004).

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