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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Legendary Sports Veterans

I found this great sports article that honors veterans. All credit goes to back to this link.

If you see a veteran today (or any day for that matter), please be sure to thank him or her for their service and dedication.

Here, we mention some of the professional athletes who have served our nation on the frontlines during war.

Bob Feller: He was the first major leaguer to volunteer for active duty, enlisting in the Navy on Dec. 9, 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor.

Grover Cleveland Alexander: During the middle of his 373-win (tied third all-time) pitching career, Alexander was an Army sergeant fighting in France for about a year duing World War I. He suffered shell shock, partial hearing loss, seizures that grew increasingly worse and other illnesses that were either caused or aggravated during his service.

Yogi Berra: A Navy gunner's mate, his boat reached the shores of Normandy a few days after D-Day. Two years later, the catcher made his debut with the New York Yankees. He went on to win three MVP awards and make the Hall of Fame.

Rocky Bleier: As his 1968 rookie season was about to end with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bleier was drafted into the Army. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam and arrived there in May, 1969. That Aug. 20, Bleier was hit by rifle fire in his left leg and moments later, was hot by shrapnel fro a grenade in his right leg.
Doctors told Bleier he would not play football again, but he returned to the Steelers in 1971. Paired in the backfield with Franco Harris, Bleier was an integral part of the Steelers' four Super Bowl championship teams of the 70s.

Al Bumbry: Fewer than 10 major leaguers served in Vietnam. Bumbry earned a Bronze Star there during his service as a platoon leader. Soon after getting back to the United States, Bumbry began his 1973 American League Rookie of the Year season as a Baltimore Orioles outfielder. He played 14 major league seasons.

Roger Staubach: The 1963 Heisman Trophy winner as the quarterback of the U.S. Naval Academy team, Staubach could have requested a military assignment in the U.S. after his graduation. Instead, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, where he served as a supply officer.
Staubach began his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys at age 27 in 1969. He retired in 1979 as one of the game's most successful and exciting QBs, and was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Don Steinbrunner: Played offensive tackle with the Browns in 1953, but was forced to retire because of a knee injury.
Steinbrunner soon joined the U.S. Air Force. He went to Vietnam in 1966, and on July 20, 1967, his plane was shot down in South Vietnam, killing all five crew members.
Steinbrunner was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart.

Pat Tillman: An Army Ranger, he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Tillman had played safety for four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, making Sports Illustated's first-tea all-pro team in 2000. He finished the 2001 season and decided to enlist in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Ted Williams: Considered by some as baseball's greatest hitter ever, Williams served a total of nearly five years in World War I and the Korean War -- both stints during the prime of a playing career that ended with a .344 batting average and 521 home runs.
Williams served in the Marine Corps and Navy. Much of his World War II duty was as a flight instructor. He flew 39 combat missions in Korea. He was awarded an Air Medal for a mission during which the hydraulics and electrical systems on his plane were hit by flak and ruined, and yet he managed to fly the crippled plane back to its base.

Some individuals who did not engage in combat get special mention. For instance, heavyweight champion Joe Louis, regarded by some as the greatest boxer ever, enlisted in the Army in 1942, during World War II. The U.S. military was then racially segregated and Louis, an African-American, was assigned to a cavalry unit at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The Army soon realized the positive impact Louis's personality made on the troops, and felt the best way he could serve was to visit troops around the globe. Louis fought exhibition matches and also proved to be a master recruiter.

Obviously this list is far from complete. If you wish to add to, or comment on this post, please feel free to do so.


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