The Ultimate Athletes………….By RC

Bob Feller led the 1954 Cleveland Indians to the American League championship. He volunteered for the military two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 11, 1941. He returned home a highly decorated soldier…….

Yogi Berra earned three Most Valuable Player awards while playing catcher for the Yankees during their domination in the 1950’s and early 60’s. He was a gunner on a boat that pulled into Normandy two days after the D Day invasion……….

Roger Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl victories and made several All-Pro teams. He also turned down a cushy job in America to serve as a supply officer in Viet Nam……

Pat Tillman played out his final year of professional football in 2001, the season when the 9/11 attacks occurred. He gave up a glamorous life as a pro football player and volunteered for service in the Army Rangers. He was killed in action in 2004 in Afghanistan…………..

Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox and arguably the greatest hitter who ever played baseball, served for five years both in World War II and Korea as a flight instructor. Known as the Spendid Splinter he would have even more records had he not volunteered for service to our country………….

Warren Spahn led the Milwaukee Braves to the World Championship in baseball in 1957. He earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his action in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II…….

Jackie Robinson of the Brookly Dodgers who broke the color barrier in major league baseball also served in World War II as a Lieutenant in the first black tank battalion that fought in World War II…………………………………………….

Now these are not nearly all the professional athletes who have served our country so unselfishly in the military since our beginning but it is a pretty good cross section of those folks who gave up the good life to serve and protect………………………………………………

It is understood that we have been able to either watch or read about the greatness of each of the above as they graced our athletic fields and captured our hearts. But I think that it goes without saying that during their service in the military they were just another one of the guys-another one of the ultimate athletes. Having been raised by a member of the “Greatest Generation” as so very appropriately named by former news anchor Tom Brokaw, I have heard countless stories of courage and sacrifice during WWII. Each time that I heard a story I was a little more amazed at the daring and unbelievable accomplishments of our soldiers. These athletic feats were the type that would have gained the next morning headlines in every newspaper across the country had they happened in front of a television audience. But most of these performances were in far away lands and so isolated that only the stories brought home by our veterans could bring them back to life. And they happened on a daily basis with no fanfare. You see, they were expected by not only the warriors themselves but by their buddies on the front line along with them, as well. Only the best trained and the most courageous could even come close to matching what these ultimate athletes did on our behalf…………………………………………..

All this was brought to life once again on Sunday October 23 when our friend and World War II hero William T. “Doc” Calhoun was honored at the Comanche Museum. Doc was in one of the most daring jumps of all of World War II when his outfit parachuted on Corrigidor in the Phillipines. Not only did they have to make a pin point jump they had to defend against over 4,000 Japanese with just a few hundred American GI’s. It has been labeled one of the most “unwinnable” battles in U.S. history. Yet Doc and his fellow soldiers were victorious………………….

But what stood out most to me while watching the footage of those paratroopers was the athleticism that it took to just make it to the ground without further damage. Only America’s finest could have done what they did. I could go on and on……………………….

Now this is just one story and any of our men and women who have served in any war since WWII could tell their own frightening stories. And I just don’t have the space to deliver all that I have heard. I am just one of the many grateful citizens of this great country: gratef for all who served. Our real heroes in this country wear or have worn the uniforms of their respective branches of the military and trust me no matter if they were in a battle or served in peace time in preparation for battle if the occasion arose, they are undoubted the best fit and bravest of all athletes………………….

On November 11 please remember a veteran and thank a veteran and when you do just remember that you have just encountered The Ultimate Athlete. ………………………..RC

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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