May 24, 2015

On That Day…

Filed under: Admin,Alumni,Coaches,Football,Good,History,Honors,Players — Reed @ 11:30 am

As the years’ calendar turns to the end of May and the start of what we all see as the spring and summer season, or as we PITT football fans say “the time when no football things are happening” one date always jumps out at me.

It’s on that day our Memorial Holiday falls.  In addition to the store sales, reunions, parties, parades, and picnics Memorial Day also holds a meaning that strikes a deeper and more significant cord in many of us.  You all know that I’ve reference my professional life as a military officer before.  Because that career and my experiences serving in that capacity filled almost my whole adult life, from age 22 until I retired four years ago, it is the lens in which I see, think and feel almost everything through.

So while woolgathering yesterday to try to figure out the next thing to write about Pitt football it occurred to me that I’ve never done a separate Memorial Day piece and that is because it seems to have nothing to do with PITT football.  But after some serious reflection I do believe Memorial Day and the University of Pittsburgh, in all their respective facets, have deep ties and are intertwined both historically and in the present.

Many Pitt fans have friends and relatives who have served in the Armed Forces at some point, or maybe they themselves have.  PITT students fought in our Civil War in the 1860s… on both sides.  Early in the 20th century some of our grandparents who attended or were affiliated with the university volunteered to serve and were sent to Europe during WWI.  Many of our parents, aunts and uncles had their PITT educations interrupted to join the fight in World War II.  My father, two of my aunts and an uncle went directly from being students at PITT into the military then overseas to Europe and China-Burma.

Of course my mother, an younger woman, stayed home and attended PITT until my dad came back from the war and they could get married in Heinz Chapel in the shadow of the Cathedral of Learning.  A scenario repeated thousands of times across college campuses I’m sure.  It is true thatThey also serve who only stand and waite”.

PITT had many other students and alumni who served and some who gave ‘the last full measure’ as Lincoln so eloquently stated.  There has never been a war or an armed conflict without PITT personnel involved.  Here are just a few examples.

During WWI Colonel Joe Thompson, a PITT student, football player and later the school’s head coach won the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award issued by the United States to our military members.

Thompson was educated at the University of Pittsburgh, where he played football from 1904 – 1906, during which time the Panthers compiled a 26-6 record. He captained the Pitt football team to its first perfect season in 1904 when the Panthers won all ten games and surrendered only one touchdown. Thompson graduated from Pitt in 1905 and continued on with post-graduate work in the School of Law completing his law degree.

His Medal of Honor citation reads:

Counterattacked by 2 regiments of the enemy, Maj. Thompson encouraged his battalion in the front line of constantly braving the hazardous fire of machineguns and artillery. His courage was mainly responsible for the heavy repulse of the enemy.

Later in the action, when the advance of his assaulting companies was held up by fire from a hostile machinegun nest and all but 1 of the 6 assaulting tanks were disabled, Maj. Thompson, with great gallantry and coolness, rushed forward on foot 3 separate times in advance of the assaulting line, under heavy machinegun and antitank-gun fire, and led the 1 remaining tank to within a few yards of the enemy machinegun nest, which succeeded in reducing it, thereby making it possible for the infantry to advance.

The University itself has recognized their student’s military sacrifices. Here is how a 1942 PITT yearbook describes the growing Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) because of the need for active duty servicemen to contribute and fight in the Second World War.  That link leads to a 10 page section of that yearbook that shows all the units and events of the PITT Military Corp of that year and is a very interesting snapshot of what we are discussing here. Those are the young men who went directly into training then into combat.

Our school has continued the course of providing it’s men and women an opportunity to study via the ROTC, then graduate and become military officers, at a higher rank than non-ROTC officer candidates, if they choose to do so.  Pitt’s Three Rivers Battalion is a vibrant legacy program that offers scholarships along with training and education for our students to become leaders in all walks of life, not just in military service.

This passage in the book Pitt: the story of the University of Pittsburgh, 1787-1987 states how the PITT News issued this challenge of wartime service by Pitt in the spring of 1942:

We must fight and now. Only by losing themselves in helping to win the war can universities and colleges find themselves. Only by sacrifice can they help save the values for which this nation fights.

Convoluted? Yes, it was a student newspaper, what do you expect?  But true? Also yes and that challenge was met.

Along with the general student population Pitt’s nursing school grads contributed directly to winning the WWII with their selfless service to others also. One such lady was alumni Katherine Nau, one of “The Angels of Bataan” .  She had lived in Japan while doing social work there in the 1920s then returned to the Pacific during the Second World War.

She served in the Philippines as a civilian Red Cross Field Director and personally administered medical care and supplies to the wounded men at the gun batteries on the front line.  Throughout the first part of the war until the fall of U.S. Headquarters in Manila she volunteered to tend to the U.S. servicemen on those islands who were casualties of the intense fighting.

Then her true heroics kicked in as seen by this description of her actions written after the war had ended:

“On Christmas Eve 1941, Nau and a group of military nurses were evacuated by truck to the Bataan Peninsula as U.S. and allied forces fled Manila. On April 9, Nau and the nurses escaped Bataan to the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay.

After the fall of Corregidor, Nau was recaptured by the Japanese and was taken to the Santo Tomas internment camp in Manila, where she remained until December 1944 when she was transferred to Los Banos prison camp. Los Banos was liberated by American forces Feb. 23, 1945.

Nau, the News reported Sept. 22, 1946, “recently received presidential recognition in the form of the Army’s Bronze Star Medal for nearly three years of ‘marked devotion to duty’ while interned in Japanese prison camps. …

The citation signed by President Harry S. Truman paid tribute to Nau for performing ‘high beneficial services in caring for the sick and wounded, in giving assistance to orphaned children and in contributing energetic and capable efforts toward the recreation and entertainment of her fellow prisoners.’

Another heroic PITT grad was Lieutenant Colonel Boyd David “Buzz” Wagner who was the first United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) fighter ace of World War II.  As a 1st Lieutenant Wagner commanded the 17th Pursuit Squadron at Nichols Field, Philippines, when the Japanese attacked there on 8 Dec 41.

In the following days, Lt Wagner destroyed five Japanese aircraft in aerial combat and countless more on the ground while piloting his P-40 aircraft. Grounded after he received glass in his eyes during a dogfight with enemy aircraft, Wagner was evacuated to Australia where he became the Chief of Pursuit Aviation for Fifth Air Force.

In that capacity he trained newly formed aerial combat pursuit units. Leading one fledgling P-39 unit on their first combat mission out of New Guinea, he shot down three more Japanese aircraft. He rotated back to the US in Sep 42 with a total of eight kills to his credit

More recently we’ve seen our men and women serve with distinction in Vietnam.  One of the more highly profiled was Pitt Chancellor Wesley Posvar who after graduating from the West Point Military Academy …” rose through the Air Force ranks to become a brigadier general, serving first as a test pilot, and later as a strategic planner in the Pentagon, a military academy professor and a Vietnam combat flier.”

Posvar was a highly decorated war veteran and is buried with full military honors in the West Point cemetery.  He may not have been a PITT student but he certainly was a PITT Man.

They weren’t the only military members with Pitt ties who served valiantly.  Here are some others who went and fought with great distinction also:

Gust Avrakotos — (A&S 1962) — CIA agent responsible for arming the Afghan Mujahidin in the 1980s. (Well… maybe not great distinction in this case.)

Samuel W. Black — (A&S 1834) — Colonel, hero of the Mexican and Civil wars.

Jack E. Foley — (A&S 1946) — World War II Captain in Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.

Patricia Horoho — (NURS 1992G) — the United States Army’s 43rd Surgeon General and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Roscoe Robinson, Jr. — (GSPIA 1965) — First African-American Four-star General.  In 1967 he served as battalion commander in Vietnam. For his achievements there he received the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 11 Air Medals, and two Silver Stars.

James Martinus Schoonmaker – Civil War Medal of Honor winner.

Those many individuals, all with close ties to the University, are the epitome of who we memorialize on this special day.  Along with thousands of others they served, fought, killed, healed others and died for us and our families. What they did so bravely was to make sure that we Americans had the protections set forth in our Constitution.

One of those protections was the First Amendment rights. The right to criticize the government, the right of assembly and, most importantly, the right and the freedom of speech and dissent.   The University of Pittsburgh was a platform for all of those and in turn again meshed with the military and our citizens.

I distinctly remember the end of the war in Vietnam when many Pittsburgh men and PITT students who served over there and came home to the catcalls and insults from some angry and disappointed citizens.  They also served their country well and honorably and in my opinion they had it much harder than our previous war veterans all around.

It wasn’t easy for them when fighting over there and it damn sure wasn’t easy for them when they returned home.  Some of those Vietnam Veterans are currently administrators, teachers and employees at PITT and continue to serve us well in a different capacity.

In addition to producing war heroes our university also had major ties to those protesting the war and holding peace vigils on campus to dissent and disapprove of the governments’ actions in the Vietnam era.  One of the first Pittsburghers to burn their draft card was Pitt student Joshua Chasan. PITT’s campus also was the site of other protests and some of the university’s professors were vocal about ending the war as well.

A Pitt professor challenged President Bush’s War Powers; Jules Lobel, an associate professor of International and constitutional law brought suit, unsuccessfully, to prevent the President from launching an Iraq offensive without Congressional approval.

Pitt’s involvement in the international arena of conflict and the studies of the military and war didn’t end there.  More recently in October of 2011 Pitt held a summit of 24 worldwide historians led by five Pitt professors to discuss “JAPAN’S WORLD WAR II IN ASIA: 70 YEARS ON.”  The university has had its irons in the fire with every aspect of war and peace and that surely won’t stop any time soon.

In closing, and because this is a sports blog, let’s look at the world of Pitt football as it pertains to military service.

To understand the contributions our football programs made in war we can look at those great last three football seasons Jock Sutherland had as head coach at Pitt from 1937 until 1939 just prior to war.  Pitt ran up a record of 25-2-1 and won a Rose Bowl (and refused to play in a Rose Bowl in ’38) while doing so.

Our star halfback and All-American on those wonderful ’36 and ’37 teams, Marshall Goldberg, joined the Navy in 1943 and served for two years as a Lieutenant in the South Pacific combat theater.

During that run our defense gave up an average of 4.2 points per game.  Strong, unyielding and winning… the same traits our servicemen later showed in their service.  Those young men, already tough kids and now learned in discipline and drilled in the desire to win, went on to excel in the service’s officer corps during the war.

The Army, Navy and Marine Corps took our graduates and put them in their leadership positions at once. You just know those Sutherland Panthers who were called up had a head start in that department and I’ll bet a dollar they were the best of the bunch in their Officer Candidate School classes.

But that wasn’t the first time PITT players had succeeded the trial by fire on the football field and then used those same lessons on the field of battle.  Pitt’s Pop Warner’s 1915 to 1918 teams went 30-1 and were considered the best football teams of that early century.  They also were defensive stalwarts allowing only 3.1 points per match.

Those kids on those Sutherland and Warner teams weren’t just good football players, they were championship football players and that is a huge difference. Think about it, only one university can make that “Football Champions to Winning Warriors”’ claim in both world wars and that is the University of Pittsburgh.  Warner’s squads went through 30 games undefeated and won three National Championships.

Do we think these young men were going to go backwards on any battlefield? Do we believe those young men were going to settle for anything less than total victory during the war and do their part in that with strength borne on the football field?

That wasn’t possible; they were Pitt boys, born and bred with their feet and hearts firmly rooted in that Monongahela anthracite coal seam that ran under their homes, their city and our school.  Strengthened by millions of years in the making, that coal seam was the highest quality and the most pure in the world.

To meet, tame and mine it our men and their families had to have the fighting strength to make that deep seam give up its coal, and then they worked in a Hell Hole of a mill to turn it into the best coke for the strongest steel.  The men of Western Pennsylvania who did that bred and raised young men who won college football championships and then went off and won wars.

We Pittsburghers do love to point out that our people and our mills made the steel for the engines of war that defeated our enemies and kept our United States safe. We did that and many other aspects of our American lives were better because of the men and women who worked the mills to make it happen.  That is the tempered legacy DNA left to us Pittsburghers by those who went down in the mines and worked the blast furnaces in the past. No matter what our walk of life is… it carries on inside us.

However, we also tend to overlook the many great contributions of Pitt’s students, who had fought valiantly overseas, then came back home and finished their educations by graduating from the university via the WWII GI Bill.  Some went on to get their interrupted Masters and Doctorates on Uncle Sam’s dime. They were the teachers, leaders and builders of the future.

The Greatest Generation was made up of not only strong leaders and brave war fighters but also those who men and women became the professors, engineers, doctors, lawyers and scientists who had Pitt educations then spread their experiences and good works through the local communities and the nation to build our country into the strongest and the greatest ever known.

So, on that day, the one day we Americans have set aside as a memorial to all who have served and to all those who died while in that service, let us raise that first soda pop or that first beer and say ‘Thank You’ from our hearts. Then send out a prayer that those Pitt men and women, and indeed all others who serve us in far away and dangerous places, to come home safe and sound in mind and body to a caring and welcoming nation.  It is what they deserve.

Hail to Pitt.

Armed Forces








Reed, thanks for enlightening me about Wesley Posvar. He was chancellor when I was at Pitt but I had no idea about his background. Makes me proud to know that I shook his hand.

Comment by 2$Chuck 05.24.15 @ 12:08 pm

Reed, of the fine blogs you have posted here, I believe this may be your finest. I assume it also required the most research.

Further, while this is indeed a Pitt sports blog, I do not mind one bit a non-sports topic especially in a slow news period. Anything educational and/or entertaining is OK by me; I remember when you quizzed us on 20th century literature a couple of years ago.

I did not serve but my father did as did 5 of my uncles (all but two during WWII) and have two active family members serving. I would like to wish you and all veteran Blatherites the best of Memorial Days.

Comment by wbb 05.24.15 @ 12:15 pm

Thanks Reed for this sobering tribute to the PITT men and women who have served our country and who continue to serve, so that we have the freedoms that we enjoy and indeed take for granted each day. Hail to Pitt and Hail to the men and women who have served our great country!

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 05.24.15 @ 12:17 pm

Reed, thank you for taking the time to research and write this outstanding post.

Comment by HbgFrank 05.24.15 @ 12:26 pm

Reed, serving in the military is a patriotic duty that I have no personal experience with, I greatly admire those who have served however. I just returned from vacationing in France which included a visit to the D-Day Normandy beaches.

On that cold blustery day, while the winds whipped the surf into 10 foot breakers onto the beaches, I could barely imagine the fear and apprehension that so many American troops must have harbored within themselves during their attack on those beaches.

We often use terms in sports that parallel those used in battle, but even the most hotly contested game is a Sunday walk in the park when compared to any true battle that our troops are exposed to during actual combat. To those who have served and to those who have sacrificed there lives in that duty, I give my most sincere thank you for that service and those ultimate sacrifices.

Unlike in sports, where when the game is over, life goes on, in the military after an engagement lives are lost and those who remain alive often are scarred for life both physically as well as mentally for the remainder of their existence. I’m so glad that I never had to endure such traumatic events personally, but I often wonder if I could have been able to accomplish such feats of battle or rather would have I succumbed to cowardice? This, will remain simple conjecture for me.

Fot those who have served however they know only too well what I can just imagine. May we never lose sight therefore of what Memorial Day is truly about. I salute you all.

Comment by Dr. Tom 05.24.15 @ 1:11 pm

Dr. Tom, how true that is and one thing we should remember about our Veterans is that those scars you mention are sometime deeply hidden and almost unbelievable when meeting and talking with that person. It isn’t just the scars, physical and mental, from combat either. First Responders are commonly afflicted also. Over a beer I’ll tell you my personal stories about that sometime.

Guys – feel free to share this with any other PITT people you think might enjoy it. I’ve been asked to post my article links on Facebook also so there will some redundancy. I really love hearing people talk about this subject and how personal it is to them.

Comment by Reed 05.24.15 @ 1:35 pm

What an awesome piece of writing. God bless you and all who have served our country. Every year I take my students to place flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day. There is no better lesson to either teach or learn.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 05.24.15 @ 1:53 pm

In the words of R. Lee Ermey, “Out-#$!&ing-standing,” good Sir. From an Air Force vet, a solemn Memorial Day.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Digdug 05.24.15 @ 2:49 pm


Excellent job – as usual.

Hats off and bless you to those who have served and those who serve now.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 05.24.15 @ 4:22 pm

for more perspective, see his retweet from Common White Girl

link to

Comment by wbb 05.24.15 @ 4:27 pm

Read… what a wonderful piece that you have written… The amount of work that you put into this is enormous and deeply appreciated. A history lesson that we would never see in the Pitt magazine. What saddens me is this generation and their lack of awareness for history and the geography that surrounds them. Just this week I had a junior high school student, aspiring to be a registered nursein my office to be evaluated for an ACL injury. We got discussing current events and just out of curiosity I asked her two questions number one: Who is the vice president of United States? Number two: what is the capital of Russia? She was absolutely dumbfounded.all of those great Americans you listed brought this country forth through many challenges, many giving their lives. I’m concerned about the youth as well as an educational system that just doesn’t seem to “get it.”

Comment by BigB 05.24.15 @ 4:58 pm

I am a Navy Veteran and KGSB Alum. During my time at Pitt there were over 500+ veterans attending the university over all the different campuses and I felt that the University treated us great! I was always a Pitt fan and my experience at Pitt as a student veteran made me love the university more than I would have ever imagined!

Thanks for the great post Reed and Hail to Pitt!!!

Comment by KatzPanther13 05.24.15 @ 5:02 pm

I think somewhere on the campus grounds they have a nice, somber memorial service every year, too. Maybe in conjunction with the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Museum?


Comment by Digdug 05.24.15 @ 5:35 pm

Reed, great piece and thank you for keeping the focus on our special men and women.

My nephew was a Green Beret, Special Forces who was KIA in Kabul while on a mission. Reed you will understand this better than I do, but he was a Staff Sergeant at age 25. My military friends tell me he was a fast track bad ass. It makes me laugh and it makes me cry when I speak of him. He left behind a one year old son, wife and crushed mother, father and brothers. He was pure Pittsburgh fellas.

I don’t know how to explain this guys, but when I go to live sporting events and they play the national anthem….I beam with pride and cry. Every time! As I watched the hockey game last night as the Chicago fans yelled and screamed through the entire ballad….anger filled my heart. To me they were disrespectful. Thank you again for your fine work Reed and thanks to all of those that serve now, have served and have been a part of a family that has served.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 05.24.15 @ 6:21 pm

dhuff – I am much more sentimental about the country now than when I was younger. Times do change but I get pretty angry when someone paints this newest generation with a wide brush and says they have no respect for the flag, military, country, etc… I don’t mean you at all dhuff but I hear this refrain pretty regularly and, I hate to say it, most often among my fellow Veterans.

All I say is when to them is ‘when was the last time you took a moment and made the effort for the youngsters to really understand what foundations the USA was built upon?‘ I get dumfounded looks with that one and that also makes me sad. Each generation and every citizen has it in them to respond if needed, I firmly believe that. I can’t tell you how many times I had young kids come work for me who acted like they didn’t care about much of anything – it was a lot ‘cooler‘ to be that way.

But after their time in my units they knew, and I believe they appreciated, those thing more than they did before. They certainly understood what “Service to the Country” meant when I was done with them… after all that’s why they are in the military whether they think so or not.

We all have to put the effort in to educate and remind each other and ourselves sometimes what the really important things are. One thing I have always done with the youngsters is to ask them to call or visit their grandfathers or the older generations of their relatives and ask to hear what it was like during wartime… then actually listen to what they have to say.

Comment by Reed 05.24.15 @ 6:43 pm

I have to admit that even though my father retired as a Lieutenant Colonel (in Reserves), I am much more respectful these days than when I was younger. I was never disrespectful but veterans mean so much to me now.

Comment by wbb 05.24.15 @ 6:54 pm

Tomorrow should be a solemn day. A day of remembrance. A day of sacrifice. A day of respect. Our freedom was paid for in blood. Lets never forget.

Comment by TX Panther 05.24.15 @ 7:18 pm

One of the most awe inspiring moments I’ve had in my life was having my 89 year old grandfather visit me in DC for the first time in April. I took him down to to see the monuments (most importantly the WW2 and Arlington Cemetery). We hit the perfect day to do it over Easter Weekend. 60’s, sunny with a nice breeze and just before the madness of the Cherry Blossom’s peak.

As we were touring the Lincoln Memorial a Park Ranger came over and gave us a wheel chair to use for the day. The amount of respect my grandfather received from that moment forward was overwhelming. He wore is WW2 cap and we lost count of how many people wanted a picture with him, let alone those who thanked him for his service.

The capper was walking around the ring of the WW2 memorial and taking a photo of my grandfather under the Philippine’s stone. As I was doing this a young man approached him and asked him where he served. My grandfather told him the Pacific and that he helped liberate the Philippines and the reason for the picture. The man was beside himself and thanked my grandfather for his service. Turns out my grandfather ended up staying in the same area his family was from, to which my grandfather replied – “you kind of look like me”. It lightened the mood a bit and my grandfather got a couple of incredulous “Grandpa!”‘s from me and my two boys … along with a punch in the arm from my mom.

It also hit my grandfather (and me) at how old he was. We were probably on the Mall for about 3-4 hours and we didn’t see a single other WW2 vet.

It’s very sad and heartening to see the The Greatest Generation fade into history.

Truly an amazing experience.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 05.24.15 @ 7:52 pm

Reed, excellent. My Dad was a WW II vet. Thank you to all the men and women who have served.

Comment by Dan 05.24.15 @ 9:00 pm

Great piece, well done, and thank you for serving!

My Dad class of ’50, was commissioned from Pitt ROTC and served in Korean era.

I graduated and was commissioned the same day from Pitt in ’88. I served as Regular Army for several years , later joined the Reserves and the Guard retiring in 2008.
Many of the members of the Pitt Corp (students and Cadre) served in Desert Storm, The Balkans, AEF, and OIF. I know of at least one currently an O-6 hopefully will show on list for BG.
Pitt ROTC has much to be proud of.
Duff daddy so sorry for your loss. I served with many SF guys during my years in the Rangers – great warriors – you are right to be proud.
Great article. RLTW!

Comment by Mill 05.24.15 @ 9:15 pm

Thank you Reed for the wonderful tribute posted above! I concur that it is indeed your finest article. I rarely post personal information, but my older brother, while serving as an officer in Vietnam made the ultimate sacrifice! My parents were devastated and never really recovered, god rest their souls. My life as a kid for several years was a black blur interrupted by fights at school, the local “Y”, etc. with anyone making disparaging remarks about Vietnam vets or the war. Many times I took an ass whipping. May all families who sacrificed find peace in the Lord! UPone

Comment by UPone 05.24.15 @ 9:22 pm

After finally getting to watch the movie “American Sniper ” yesterday I once again realize that we need to bring back the military draft. Today’s generation has little or no idea of shared sacrifice relying instead on heroes such as Chis Kyle who serve multiple tours of duty sometimes with disastrous results.Thank you to all veterans not only on Memorial Day but every day

Comment by Fred filopek 05.24.15 @ 9:36 pm

Reed, like so many before you, you are a true officer and a gentleman! Thank you for your service and for this article. Few have stronger views on politics than I but I refuse to share them on a Pitt blog. They are precious to me.

My father was a Captain in the Army Signal Corps in WW11 in N Africa and Italy. It was his unit that broke the German Cipher and along side Bletchly in England, floated a dead body with fake orders to hide the actual DDay in Italy. It worked and saved countless lives. Many troops landed unopposed.

His civilian life as a father was less than good. We did not get along to say the least but I always respected his service.

He’s been gone from cancer for many years now but I found another thing to respect. He could do the Sunday NY Times Crossword in 15 minutes flat! Takes me days.

Comment by Dan 72 05.24.15 @ 9:55 pm

Thanks Reed nice and appropriate blog. This is obviously something very near and dear to you.

While I haven’t always agreed with the politics behind every war, I have never had anything but the utmost respect for those that have served this country. They are never to be put in harm’s way unless absolutely necessary. Not going to get into if that has always been the case or not.

I seen a couple references to “the greatest generation”. They really were and it is so sad to see so few left. My Grandparents were a part of that generation.Their parents were immigrants, so they had to speak Italian at home and learn English in school. My Grandpap dropped out of school in 10th grade during the depression to go to work to help out the family. He later went into the service and was a WW II vet. I lost my Grandpap in 2000 when he was 84 and my Grandma 3 years ago at the young age of 97.

God bless all of our veterans and on this Memorial Day, and take a minute to remember how many gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country…

Comment by Pap76 05.24.15 @ 10:18 pm

“Long” John Woodruff. He first stuck it to Hitler as a gold medalist in the 800 meters at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He entered the military in 1941 as a 2nd Lt. with the Tuskegee Airmen. Discharged as a Capt. in 1945. He reentered the military for the Korean War where he served until 1957, rising to the rank of Lt. Col. Came home to serve as Battalion Commander in the NY Army National Guard.

Comment by Nick 05.25.15 @ 12:40 am

“Today’s generation has little or no idea of shared sacrifice relying instead on heroes such as Chis Kyle who serve multiple tours of duty sometimes with disastrous results”

Yes, because the military is absolutely “Bereft” of personal willing to serve their Country now that the Draft is not active.

Just……Projecting insecurities into the how some “Generations” are better or worse.

Thank goodness I had a German Grandfather who moved to inner-city Philadelphia(open-minded, bringing in Asian / Latin / Black children into his home and treating them like his own) who said that every Generation projects their insecurities onto the next one.

My Father was a career Huey Pilot. And When I was born way down-the-line he told me that all some people do is rag on the next generation because they are insecure about themselves.

Now I can say, that some of the young people coming-up nowadays absolutely astound me in their intellectually abilities and compassion…I am so excited for the future of America (Yes, including many young Latin-Americans, who are in reality learning English faster than any previous immigrating-group) I can hardly hold-in my enthusiasm…

Since We’re appreciating The United States of America and it’s People (And it’s Future) — I felt it impossible to ignore any negative remarks.

This Country is in amazing hands with the upcoming-generations…..

Sorry, but decades down-the-line there will be so many more Americans who will be Veterans, who serve this Country with the utmost-Passion…I hate…Despise! — “Generation-ism” lol

Comment by Pat "Dark Knight" Narduzzi 05.25.15 @ 3:12 am

Thank you all for the kind words.

Please have a great Memorial Day and, as a favor for me, give those car keys to someone if you’ve been drinking. Drink up by all means, this is the day to do that, but use your head also.

Here’s a deal. If any of us regulars on this blog have to take a taxi or a car service to get home safely today I’ll split the cost with you 50/50. Just let me know… and no, it doesn’t cover limousines even though you all deserve to travel in style.

More football stuff soon.

Comment by Reed 05.25.15 @ 5:10 am

Reed, does that magnanimous offer above still stand if your mode of transportation home after indulging in those multiple libations happens to be a golf cart?

Comment by Dr. Tom 05.25.15 @ 6:44 am

???? NO ????

Comment by Reed 05.25.15 @ 7:06 am

I agree we need a draft. If only to make it much more difficult to enter into unnecessary wars. We’re very lucky that there are so many willing to sacrifice for the rest of us. It’s such a deep disrespect to send an all volunteer force to far flung shitholes with so little to gain and so much to lose.

Comment by Chris 05.25.15 @ 7:44 am

A BIG Thank You to all of the Blatherites who served. This was a sobering but well stated post and I thank you for it Reed. I started reading this for Pitt sports news but now find myself interested in Reed’s service, uPITT’S situation with his Mom, where Frankcan went and the many personal stories behind you guys.

Comment by The Hagen 05.25.15 @ 8:01 am

Reed – WOW! Your abilities as a researcher and thinker/writer are always astounding, but today, you outdid yourself!

I’m sitting here at the house, drinking my coffee and reading this blog, secured by the very freedom that you, and countless other Americans thru the ages have risked all to ensure. To merely say, “Thank you” does not seem nearly enough.

Every year on the Memorial Day weekend, I get a severe case of the guilts, because I realize it has been a year since I have taken time to recall and appreciate the unselfish bravery you and millions more like you have given this God Blessed country.

It doesn’t come close to repaying the debt, but Thank You for your service! You all are greatly appreciated!

Comment by Savannah Panther 05.25.15 @ 9:20 am

For me, dad and brother served.

BTW: Even the Miami Hurricanes are considering their own stadium:

link to

Comment by Tony77019 05.25.15 @ 9:34 am

While we are telling stories about relatives who served I don’t want to leave out my wife’s father and uncle, both who served honorably and were decorated WWII veterans in the US Army.

Why is that so interesting? Because they were both full blood Japanese men born on the Big Island of Hawai’i. While their Japanese relatives were rounded up on the Mainland these guys and many, many other Japanese went and fought for THEIR home country – as it was theirs just as much as anyone else’s.

Her uncle Tadao Nagasawa volunteered for the legendary 442nd Infantry Regiment which was made up of white officers while the enlisted ranks were Japanese and Asian. The 442nd has been memorialized in books, statues and movies as the “GO FOR BROKE!!” unit and ended up being the most highly decorated regiment in all of the war. Here is a trailer for that film.

Take a look again at that April 4th, 1945 Facts Memo sent out by the parent command, HEADQUARTERS 92D INFANTRY DIVISION. What first grabs me is that a memo actually had to be disseminated to dispel rumors and innuendo and secondly the description of that last paragraph.

8. They are patient in combat, and, like all good soldiers cannot be hurried into a dangerous situation. It is usually better to allow the squad or platoon to work out its own method of dealing with a particular situation — and they will if there is any way to do so.

This refers to action taken earlier in the war described on here.

“General Dahlquist and legacy of rescue”

A Japanese-American unit moves out of its old command post. The unit, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, is holding a section of the front lines near St. Die Area, France, 13 November 1944.

General Dahlquist’s actions and orders received mixed reviews. Many Nisei veterans disliked or disrespected General Dahlquist, and believed that Dahlquist saw the Nisei only as cannon fodder, or expendable soldiers. Although they respected his courage and saw him stand in the open issuing orders while a battle ensued, when his aide, Lieutenant Lewis, the eldest son of Nobelist Sinclair Lewis, was killed, his command ability was questioned.

Lt. Allan Ohata was ordered to send his men straight up the hill but refused to send his men into a suicide charge. Dahlquist demanded compliance but Ohata risked loss of rank and decorations and court-martial, insisting on attacking “their way.” Dahlquist’s order to take Biffontaine was also questioned because it was a farming town with only a few hundred inhabitants and was out of reach of artillery protection and radio contact with command.

On 12 November, General Dahlquist ordered the entire 442nd to stand in formation for a ceremony, and seeing K company’s 18 men and I company’s eight, demanded of Colonel Virgil R. Miller, “I want all your men to stand for this formation.” Miller responded, “That’s all of K company left, sir” (of 400, originally).

Comment by Reed 05.25.15 @ 11:09 am

Such an appropriate time and place for this discussion. Reed, well stated. To respond, to one of your notes, I wasn’t necessarily saying the new generation of kids being disrespectful in Chicago. The folks looked to be middle aged 35-50 and that angered me. It was actually kind of weird to watch the fans in Chicago. The people that were trying to be respectful were looking at the crazies, almost in disbelief.

Thanks to all of you for the kind sentiments for my nephew and again Reed for your putting this to words on such a special day. I respect each of you that have served and whose family members have served. But in addition, I respect each of you that shows respect to our heroes regardless of political slant.

UPOne, my thoughts, prayers and gratitude are with you and your family. My sister and her husband remain crushed as you indicated your parents were before they passed. I can never put it into words, so I will stop. Reed, great job.

Please cast a vote for the royal and mustard script uni’s in absentia, for a Pitt fan! De Oppresso Liber.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 05.25.15 @ 12:37 pm

The Canes are considering because their Off Campus Stadium is 30 minutes away and they want their own stadium that is more intimate and has their school character and feel. Not a sterile corporate pro stadium built for the pro game. Smaller, not bigger is how schools are moving particularly those that are private and in urban settings. More noise, more demand with fewer seats, better competitive advantage, better atmosphere, more fun in a smaller more intimate venue with its own charm and character. Plus full control on how things look, feel and is done. The Canes are smart. Just like Tulane, Baylor, and other schools that ‘get it.’ A chance to show case campus and keep the dollars on campus over a long weekend. Million dollar question – Does Pitt get it?

Comment by TX Panther 05.25.15 @ 1:40 pm

I’m teaching my kids what this day means. They ‘get’ Memorial Day. All parents have this responsibility. It’s un-American if you don’t educate your children about what this day means. Freedom comes with blood. There has been true evil in this world. The world owes the U.S. much in helping eradicate it and bringing justice. However, the fight continues to this day and never ends. I salute those who defend our rights and freedoms and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Comment by TX Panther 05.25.15 @ 1:51 pm

TX P. I do not want a Mickey Mouse small high school stadium like Tulane on campus. But it will allow us to still play 2/3 of our big ACC and OOC games at Heinz field so maybe you are right.

Comment by Rayhpgh 05.25.15 @ 2:42 pm

I mentioned my Dad being a World War II Vet. He spent almost 3 years “island hopping”. His final island, the time was spent for yet even more training. Yes, more training even after a couple years of combat.

Training for the invasion of Japan.

Thankfully that did not happen.

What I didn’t mention, (although I believe I have once or twice over the years), was that my Dad came home from WWII and

played football for Pitt. Played two years 46-47, (not our finest hour) LOL, but he lettered and started in 13 of 20 games.

Third year he busted up his knee in Spring Camp at Kiski Prep. He used to hitchhike there with Mr. Cecconi. Still saw Bimbo, ah Mr. Cecconi it will always be to me, lol, at Mass for many years, I go at a different time now though.

Funny story he always told when they got to Kiski and saw their quarters

They told each other, let’s go back to the Phillipines, the lodging was better!! LOL

Comment by Dan 05.25.15 @ 3:39 pm


Thanks for a wonderful insight into those were called to duty and did what had to be done.

From one vet to another, Hail to PITT and those who serve, Reed!


Comment by Oregon_Panther 05.25.15 @ 3:57 pm

TAPS…Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh

Comment by BigB 05.25.15 @ 4:57 pm

Dan – Kiski Prep was one of the better high schools I got kicked out of.

Getting time to close out another Memorial Day. I hope it was as good for you and your families as it was for ours. Have fun going to work tomorrow.


Retired Reed

Comment by Reed 05.25.15 @ 7:10 pm

I also commend you Reed for this article and your service and after the Taps almost feel this should end but will add— I did not serve but only because at the end of my sophomore year at Pitt they changed the Air force ROTC plan and increased the enlistment period from four to five years. I really wanted to fly but did not see myself as a 20 yr. man which is what the AF was aiming for.” Buzz Wagner was a Johnstown Pa. boy and his picture was in every home here.I drive by his grave site in Grandview cemetary regularly when I visit my parents nearby. He was an honors Aero Engineer major who enlisted after his junior year at Pitt. I am old enough I think of some classmates and friends I lost in Vietnam, of the WWII and large numbers of Korean vets I went to Pitt with in the 50’s.We are the ones that must pass this history on to the next generation.My kids, grand kids and their friends know of these things and of the word of mouth history I got from my uncle who survived the second wave at Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge. We should all support restoring “History” as a subject in the public schools as well. Eisenhower had the right idea 18 mos.universal military training. It would strengthen this country in more ways than one.

Comment by Pitt 60 05.25.15 @ 7:19 pm

Very well done, Reed. Very well written.

Comment by Neil 05.25.15 @ 11:59 pm

Excellent atricle Reed. Two points, the CMA is awarded not won; second it is possible under PA law to DUI in a golf cart if you go onto a public roadway (Dr. Tom post). While I did not serve I am proud that 2 great great uncles served in the Civil War and died in Andersonville and Florence prison camps, my dad fought in WW II in Phillipines,Luzon and New Guinea, uncle fought in Okinawa, uncle in Army Air Corp ground crew in England. Guess the only tie to Pitt for them is me, 2 Pitt degrees and public service as ADA for 30 years – dad a disabled vet didnt want me to serve but go to Pitt, long story. Oh, my brother-in-law was a Pitt ROTC grad who served 3 tours in Vietnam.
My dad before being shipped overseas (served 1939-45) played football in special unit against linemen from Notre Dame and Michigan, he was not impressed. My appreciation to all who served and are serving.
Oh, on election day at a polling place I met a vet wearing a hat with WW II vet and purple heart, he served in 101st Airborne from D-Day to Bastogne – last vet in his post and a thrill for me to talk to.
Hail to Pitt and our vets.

Comment by rkb 05.26.15 @ 8:54 am

Reed, what a great piece of work you put together for Veteran’s Day. Like many I’ve had numerous family members in the military, pioneer aviators, the first USAF Chief of Staff and I even graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy planning to become a career pilot until an auto accident ended that plan along with my football days. We had some good players come out of there and play for Pitt.

I have so many VFMA brothers who’ve already given their lives in service to this country and others surviving incredible experiences. One fellow co-captain of the wrestling team became a Marine Staff Sgt and the first hostage taken by the Iranians in 79.

God bless all those who served and made the grand sacrifice and God bless Pitt football to go out and seriously kick some butt to start that great winning tradition we had back in the 70s!

Comment by JD 05.26.15 @ 10:36 am

According to Mike White Maverick Rowen may be coming to Lincoln Pk for his senior yr. Very Intresting.

Comment by alcofan 05.26.15 @ 11:37 am

JD – I graduated from ‘The Forge in ’63’.

Comment by markp 05.26.15 @ 12:23 pm


Class of 74, A Co.!

Great to find a fellow cadet here.
Do you keep up with alumni in FB?
Must hook up for a game this fall.

Comment by JD 05.26.15 @ 12:49 pm

I was in E Battery…a lot of my classmates are not even in the alumni directory

Comment by markp 05.26.15 @ 1:31 pm


I believe if Rowan comes back to Lincoln Park it is to take a couple summer classes to graduate this year. Not sure that it would be to play there this coming year.

Louisville has one scholarship yet and is going at him hard. Based on Jamie’s latest misses and Rowan’s shoe affiliation I give Pitt zero chance of landing him. Hope I’m wrong

Comment by Pap76 05.26.15 @ 3:04 pm

News if you follow Pitt on twitter. Picture of NYC. It appears to be the Gold and Blue of Marino and Dorsett. Will they release sketches of new swag? One can only hope.

Comment by tedsptman 05.26.15 @ 5:27 pm

I don’t know, tedsptman. It looks to me like the script helmet that we saw last season.

Comment by dinosaur 71 05.26.15 @ 5:47 pm

And although I’m late to the party I applaud Reed’s outstanding effort recognizing Memorial Day for what it was meant to be.

Comment by dinosaur 71 05.26.15 @ 5:49 pm

Reed – Great tribute to all who served. We owe a lot to all of them for their sacrifices.

I feel bad about posting this on the tribute page but found the link below to Roselle Nix twitter on Cardiac Hill website. Unless he photo shopped, He looks likes he has been working out.

link to

Comment by PITT-cocks Fan 05.26.15 @ 6:14 pm

@ Reed..I played football against Kiski prep in 1969… Dave Martha, brother Paul Martha was a quarterback or the Kiski prep and I was the quarterback for Apollo ridge. My son went to Kiski prep and played football when Curtis Enis was there… The Kiski prep – Valley Forge military Academy game ranked up there as one of the best high school games I ever have ever seen. Curtis Enis was a man among boys. I was told Valley Forge had several Division I commits on their team.

Comment by BigB 05.26.15 @ 6:46 pm

I too am late to this party. Our great country has many brave men and women who have served well to help protect our liberty and freedom. I thank you Reed, all who have served and are serving.

My nephew (AF) just returned home from Afghanistan, my grandfather served in the Navy during WWII and my father-in-law (AF) served post Korean War. I have many uncles and cousins that also served – too many to record.

Since PITT-cocks fan broke the sports silence with the Nix BB post, I’ll drop in a plug for FB:

Stewart WR from NJ is hearing a strong pitch from Pitt.
“If Pitt doesn’t sign Donald Stewart, it won’t be for a lack of effort.”

Hail to the USA and Pitt!

Comment by Erie Express 05.26.15 @ 7:04 pm

I heard that The Dairy High School out east took care of the financials for Enis at Kiski and the fix was in. Back then, the NCAA never even thought to look at prep school “scholarships” as an inducement to choose a college.

So, is there one particular recruit in the WPIAL that has the pull to bring in others? It would be awesome if 5-6 of them showed up together at Pitt and held a presser…..together, and all committed. Now that would be something un-precedented and would be picked up by ESPN. If the kids wanted to do something that they would always be remembered for, that would certainly be one thing. That would turn the tide to the Panthers for a long long time. If they go to the Dairy High School out east, it would be just another day. The kids sound like they want ot make a name for themselves.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 05.26.15 @ 7:19 pm

5Dimes, offshore sportsbook, has set the odds for total wins of nearly very P5 team, and Pitt is predicted for …. wait for it … 6 wins (what else?)

link to

Comment by wbb 05.26.15 @ 7:39 pm

Over under to me is 8 wins. If Nard Dog can win 9, that would be an outstanding accomplishment. 6 wins is very Graham and Chryst like. We aren’t paying for Fraud and Mr Cheesehead.

Comment by TX Panther 05.26.15 @ 7:52 pm

Football article soon

Comment by Reed 05.26.15 @ 8:11 pm

Football fans leaving Pitt games early? Here’s Narduzzi’s thoughts on that:

Quote of the night: “We need the fans to stay. I will stop those buses if I have to!” @CoachDuzzPittFB. #PittOnTheProwl

Comment by PetePitt73 05.26.15 @ 8:48 pm

Give the fans a reason to stay then coach. Kids leave early for many reasons. And yes we’re talking about kids who’s rather get back to campus and prepare for the Saturday night kegger. Did I say get back to campus?

Comment by TX Panther 05.26.15 @ 9:14 pm

I went to the NYC version of meet the coach tonight.. If enthusiasm and a sense of humor equal wins, the future is bright. When asked about competition for the QB position, coach said CV is the starter, will still have to hold off any competitors and absolutely praised his will to compete. Although there was some there will be an open competition for every position, I was somewhat surprised at his open verbal support of Chad. I was impressed by the coach as was everyone else I spoke to.

Comment by Shaef 05.26.15 @ 10:39 pm

Move Sweet Caroline to the 2 minute warning.

Comment by Chris 05.26.15 @ 11:01 pm

I guess they’d have to make a 2 minute warning first

Comment by Chris 05.26.15 @ 11:02 pm

Great article Reed.

Loved the parts concerning Katherine Nau, an Angel of Bataan and Buzz Wagner and his P-40 Curtis Warhawk. How about that, a Pitt man, the first American Air Ace of WW2 !

True American heroes and Pitt alum to boot !

Started reading this and ended up following links from the original links for a couple hours.

Thank You for reminding us who we are as a Nation and of the people(both Pitt and otherwise) who fought and died for what America stood for.

Comment by Emel 05.26.15 @ 11:20 pm

Shaef – Narduzzi was basically telling the truth – Voytik is the incumbent starter. Mentioning the competition is a valuable thing to do for both kids at this point… as well as generating some interest in the QB position for Fall Camp.

I like Narduzzi’s approach to this so much better than I did DW’s after Bill Stull left and DW immediately declared Sunseri the starter even before the spring practices of the next year.

Much better to let every kid on the roster know that there is going to be true and honest competition in this first year of Narduzzi’s head coaching here, even if one player might have an edge going into it.

Comment by Reed 05.27.15 @ 7:36 am

@Chris, nice catch!!! LOL

Comment by Dan 05.27.15 @ 8:46 am

my grandfather (father’s side of the family) rode US postal service train up and down the east coast for 5 decades including during world war 2.

my father’s eyes were terrible so he got out of the draft during vietnam.

no idea about my mother’s side, my parents had kids late – most of my relatives on both sides were gone by the time i came around and my mom never told me much about her relatives. (from what i’ve been able to gather most of them were kinda jerks in general)

the last member of my family to cover himself in military glory was a great-great-something uncle who carried his captain on his back out from behind german lines in 1915. received a croix de guerre from france and a distinguished service cross from britain. he was a soldier in the british army, his side of the family stayed in scotland when the first member of my family to come to america immigrated here in 1820.

i had a lot of friends who went to iraq or afghanistan and it really hurts and makes me angry to see the way some of them are now, they deserve far better than the mostly crap service they get from the VA to help them mentally and emotionally (none of them were seriously physically injured thank god).

Comment by deepelemblues 05.27.15 @ 10:05 am

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