Tribute

Bryan Sperry

Battle of the Bulge WWII veteran

LAWRENCE, Kan. — An 89-year-old former University of Kansas football player has gained fresh fame after making a touchdown run during an alumni scrimmage. Bryan Sperry was all grins Saturday as he jogged toward the Memorial Stadium end zone during the scrimmage before Kansas’ annual spring football game, The Kansas City Star reported. His decades-younger opponents intentionally missed repeated tackles before showering him with congratulatory hugs and pats on the back. “I had planned on trying to get in maybe, catch a pass. He threw me a few balls to see if I could catch a ball, and I could,” Sperry said, according to CBS affiliate WIBW. “I hadn’t figured on running, in fact I hadn’t run in years. I just wanted to get in for a couple of plays and maybe catch a ball.” Sperry was 17 years old when he first left home to play football at Kansas State, but World War II interrupted his schooling. The process of returning soldiers home by boat after the war took months, so the military sent Sperry to a university in England to wait. While there, he says, he played 13 games on a team that was a mix of professionals, college players and high school graduates with limited football experience. Upon returning home in February 1946, he headed for a tryout, mostly for veterans, held by then-Kansas football coach George Sauer. He played “end” while at Kansas – offense and defense, Sperry said: “Well, we played both ways in those days.” The Jayhawks finished 7-2-1 in 1946 and in 1947, with a team captained by KU legends Otto Schnellbacher and Don Fambrough, the Jayhawks went 8-1-2, their only loss coming to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Sperry finished his career in 1948. “There aren’t many people that are lettermen of both KU and K-State,” Sperry said. With his playing days behind him, he spent decades as a high school football coach and math instructor at Pittsburg State. “That was fun,” the Pittsburg resident said. “I didn’t know if I could run.”

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 3, 2015, in Current News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 90 Comments.

  1. Thank you for putting likes on my blog.
    I have been cruising around your blog to find something I could put a like on.
    The video of the foot ball game fit the bill perfectly.
    His war memorabilia did not interest me.
    War is disturbing to me.

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  2. The joy on his face says it all – an endearing tribute for a veteran!

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  3. How touching and inspiring.

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  4. That young man put Tony Dorsett to shame with moves like that. lol, Thanks again sir

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very informative look back on the Dark Days of the world
    Bryan Sperry carries a legacy that we must remember.
    A lively soldier who is still active and has many memory’s.
    Emu

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  6. Great feel-good story. Next thing, Brian Sperry will get himself a Fitbit for Father’s Day and start tracking his running.

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  7. Nice read. Glad you passed this story along!

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  8. Inspiring and so glad to see one of those from the Greatest Generation still going strong. And one more thing… Thank you Mr. Sperry! :O)

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  9. What an inspiring story and wonderful heart warming video.

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  10. How much fun that must have been for Bryan. Thanks for sharing his story.

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  11. Saw the video when it came out. That was awesome!

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  12. Wonderful, heart warming story! Love it when more than seniors are featured with smiles on their faces ,having fun! And teammates “don’t stand in the way!” Thanks for posting this! Christine

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  13. Sweet! I do believe he has more energy than me! šŸ˜€

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  14. I loved this the first and tenth time I saw it. šŸ™‚

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  15. Super story and good to watch. He so obviously enjoyed it!

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  16. What a Great story and what a inspiration at his age. Fantastic!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. William Dick

    Mr Sperry, What a great story and much of it is similar to my dads except at 88 he couldn’t have run like you did and his alzheimers took away his many of his memories. My dad turned down a full ride scholarship to the University of Nebraska because it meant that he would be 50 miles further from his mom. He instead played football and basketball for
    York College in York, NE. He started there and then enlisted in the military. The funny part of that was that the Air Force wanted him as a pilot, but when he got to training camp
    they sent him home because he was too darn tall for the planes. (6’6″) The army was glad to have him and he served in the Philippines and Japan. When he got home he went back to
    York College and played football and basketball for them and graduated as a teacher. I really smiled about your story and thank you so much. Dad died at 88 after he broke a hip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your father’s story – that’s in the true spirit of this site – Thank you. If you care to have his name and info in the Farewell Salutes I usually have on the posts, please put them here and they will be in the following post. I hope we’ll be seeing more of you in the future.

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  18. This event was good for everyone’s heart. Everyone got along and were united. Thanks for sharing. I hope he was spared fron seeing combat or its grisly results.

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    • It is a pleasant story, eh, Koji? On the video where he talks about his memorabilia, he mentions France, Belgium and Holland – so I think he saw his fill of combat.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. What a lovely story. If only more of our ‘news’ focused on the good ways humans celebrate each other, we might each become more loving in our daily interactions. Blessings!

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  20. And that is why they are “the greatest generation.”

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  21. I saw it on television. Thanks for sharing the rest of the story.

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  22. Awww. An inspiration for us all.

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  23. I know nothing at all about American Football, but it’s great to see a Bulge veteran still able to run on the pitch.
    Also moving to read about the Belgians who are still trying to return the bodies of those killed in that country.
    Best wishes from England, Pete.

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    • Glad you enjoyed it, Pete. Suppose you might learn American football, just as we here are beginning to watch soccer [as we call it] and rugby on TV.

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  24. Wonder what unit he was in. I thought his comment about “couldn’t find a Nazi” in Germany illuminative. Everyone loves a winner and I’m sure everyone was a Nazi after all the initial victories. But when it was apparent how it was going to end…

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    • I tried locating that info for Mr. Sperry on-line and came up empty. Maybe someone who knows him will add it to their follow up on this – hope so! Everyone had to suspect that there would be war trials, who would want to admit it? šŸ™„

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  25. A lovely heartwarming story.

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  26. Great spirit and a very nice show of respect.

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  27. He had a great time there!

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  28. Love it! What a great spirit!

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  29. What a joyous video!

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  30. As a former rugby player, he, and his opponents, have my admiration

    Liked by 1 person

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