Sports in the WWII Military

1926 Army/Navy game ticket, Nimitz Museum

The relationship between sports and the American armed forces reached a climax during WWII The military broadened its athletic regimen, established during  WWI, and thereby reproduced a patriotic sporting culture that soldiers had known as civilians. The armed services provided equipment, training, and personnel rather than rely on private agencies, as had been done in WWI.  The entry of numerous prominent athletes into military service represented a public relations boon for the Department of War and cemented a bond between professional sports, athletes, and patriotism.

American football was glorified as everything masculine and befitting the U.S. military experience. As organized sports became even more closely linked with fitness, morale, and patriotism, both within the ranks and on the home front, football became a fixture on military bases at home and abroad. Football was the favored sport among the military brass, as Generals George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley all thought that football produced the best soldiers. Army and Navy were the two leading collegiate football powers during the war (Army was unbeaten from 1944 to 1946) and their games were broadcast over Armed Forces Radio.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the 11th Airborne Division, Gen. Swing ordered a Japanese auditorium to be transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943, when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Tank Sergeant D’Agostino became a middleweight boxing instructor and gave exhibitions around the camps.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.  I know he’ll make you laugh!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

################################################################################################

4 August 1790 – 2020   U.S. Coast Guard Birthday – th (8)

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/us-coast-guard-225th-birthday/

#########################################################################################################

Military  – 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Frank L. Athon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 486357, Co. A/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Raymond Battersby – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, coxswain, USS Adair

Traditions of Honor & Respect

Herman Cain – Memphis, TN; Civilian, US Navy ballistics analyst / media contributor, President candidate

Clarence Gilbert – Oklahoma City, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, POW / Korea

Lucille Herbert (100) – Manchester, NH; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt., nurse

Joe Kernan – South Bend, IN; US Navy, Vietnam, USS Kitty Hawk, pilot, POW, 2 Purple Hearts / mayor, governor

Conrad Robinson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, SSgt., medical specialist, 155/26/44th Medical Brigade, KIA (Kosovo)

Vinson Rose – Menifae County, KY; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret. 22 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 1964 Soldier of the Year, 4 Bronze Stars

Catherine Smalligan – Detroit, MI; Civilian, US Navy Recruiting Office (Kalamazoo)

Floyd Warren – North Bloomfield, OH; US Army, WWII, Lt. Col., Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Those lost to us during the Camp Pendleton training exercise…..

— Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif., a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

__ Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, New Braunfels, TX; USMC, rifleman with Bravo Co./ BLT

— Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

 

 

 

 

 

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 August 3, 2020, in First-hand Accounts, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. Great article! Very interesting and glad that we still do so much sports in the armies round the globe. Huge respect to your writings. I hope I will be able to write as good as you one day. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sport was one of the greatest tools that was used during and after the war occupation days, it formed a bond between both sides on numerous occasions I think, good post on sports and its role back in those days gp.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think a lot of us have assumed that most military sports — especially during WWII — involved pickup games more than formally organized activities. It’s amazing to read about the effort that went into the development of facilities and programs — effort that no doubt was appreciated and rewarded.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are wonderful stories that fill in the gaps for readers regarding the lives of soldiers, GP! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post, GP. Sports was so important to the troops for morale. I love the photo of the old Army-Navy football game ticket. I was lucky to attend the 100th game. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this. There is definitely a lot of overlap between sports and the military but interesting to see how they were (and still are) used for fitness and recreation as well as team building. I remember playing a lot of good pickup basketball on the local base in high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I nominated you for a Liebster Award. I hold a great respect for your blog.

    Like

    • I thank you very much, Jim. This is an award free site, as I feel I’ve only reported what the troops have done – they did the work!! You can thank me by shaking the hand of the next active or veteran you see!!

      Like

  8. Sports in WWII military are important for the physical and mental well-being of the soldiers. It reminds them of home and made their lives close to normal if there was such a thing when you knew you might not make it back home. Excellent post, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So important a facility

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “patriotic sporting culture” We need to return to this!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I really enjoyed the slide shows! Thanks for including them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just love the three attachments. Well done n

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sport was so importnat for morale and fitness. Even in a Japanese POW camp, my uncle and his fellow prisoners used to organise football matches with home-made balls. They had to reduce the playing time, because they were so weak from hunger. As I mentioned before, my dad played cricket for the Army team in India, and when they were on board ship returning to Britain, they played sports on deck in fine weather.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. They are very daring to play hockey onboard a ship. The ball is about 4-5 inches in diameter and must have been very easy to lose overboard.
    The game of football with the 379th is intriguing. Seven different men, moving in seven different directions at the same time!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a fun post – and a good reminder to always remember playtime. Can you imagine playing in the shadow of those giant bombers like they did in some of those pictures??? Wouldn’t that be something. I also really enjoyed hockey on the ship deck haha. And how neat to see the stuff with Carl’s dad!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Terrific report, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think Ted Williams was I the Navy at the time. I’d want him on my team.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. YAY for sports! So wonderful for the troops! Promotes fun, camaraderie, normalcy, exercise, etc.! All good for the body, mind, heart, and soul! 🙂

    The photos made me smile. 🙂

    The reading aloud of the Farewell Salutes made me cry even more than usual. 😦
    Such a great loss of such great young men. 😦
    My love and prayers have already gone out to their families.
    (((HUGS)))
    PS…How are you all doing?! Been thinking of you and praying for safety related to Isaias.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You always so appreciate what goes on here at Pacific Paratrooper, I don’t know how to thank you!
      The Farewell Salutes were pretty rough, I agree. My heart breaks each time of hear of just one young man gone.
      A SW wind kept Isaias just enough off-shore to only give us some wind and some rain. Yesterday – with simple FL summer thunderstorms, we had monsoons! So go figure. This time of year it’s best to stay prepared for anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for honoring my father. It’s been quite an effort but two months ago I finally got him hooked up 100% with the VA in the event we will need some help at home. More than a few times when I was a teen some guy would approach him while we were in a store and ask “Didn’t I see you box in the Army ? You were really somthin’ buddy.”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is new to me and absolutely amazing -than you again, GP, for educating me. Love the slide shows!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for this, GP! Now its much more easier for me understanding the rivaltry between Army and Navy. 😉 Now i also have an explaination for the glorification of American Football. Indeed without sport activity a soldier isnt good prepared for fighting. Best wishes, enjoy your week, and put the hurricanes, tornadoes and all the other thing back into the box. Lol Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    This was a wonderful article. I like the captions that went with the photos at the end of the article. Each gave me pause.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bring back those days. Please.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. 🏈⚾️ Thanks for this essay, GP. It’s very informative. Play ball!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Good to see our chaps playing cricket 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Sports like any other form of entertainment is a unifying force that was skillfully utilized by the American military. Thank you for this interesting post, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. No matter what there is always time for a game. That’s what I love about life. I am passionate about sports, they keep us going during the worst of times.
    Great post GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) runs the athletic programs in each Service. During WWII and until the 1960s or ’70s it was Special Services. In addition to running the gyms, athletic programs, and sports teams, at the Service level, it also runs the World Class Athlete program where soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines can be trained and coached as well as participating in the Olympics and other world-class events. The 1970s movie M*A*S*H captured the football phenomenon very well. When I was deployed to Hungary, I had to run a basketball tournament, 10K Race, and various pool tournaments to celebrate Independence Day. One of the things they taught us in our pre-deployment training was how to set brackets (which was something I never had to learn in Library School.)

    Liked by 1 person

  29. The summer of 1943, Dale Wilson and crew landed in Hawaii on their way to Australia, then combat in New Guinea. They had a layover in Hawaii to remove the extra gas tank, and got to see an Army Navy baseball game in Honolulu.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. I remember my dad talking about playing baseball in the Philippines. It made me feel good that at least something was almost normal.

    Liked by 3 people

  1. Pingback: Happy 230th Birthday U. S. Coast Guard August 4, 2020 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: