On Memorial Day, Remembering Two Michigan Greats

Lt. Tom Harmon in front of his B-25, "Little Butch"

Michigan is a school with a remarkable football history, and on a Memorial Day where we remember the people who have sacrificed everything to defend this country, it is appropriate to remember a couple of remarkable people who happened to also excel on the football field for the Wolverines. Tom Harmon was a Heisman Trophy winner and budding Hollywood star when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a pilot in 1941, while Bob Chappuis interrupted what would become a brilliant collegiate career to serve in the Air Force as a radio operator and aerial gunner from 1943-1945.

I won’t write at length on these two men, as others have already done the job much better than I could ever do. On this Memorial Day, I can only recommend that you take a minute to read up on these two great Michigan Men: check out Fredric Alan Maxwell’s 2008 piece in the Michigan Today on Harmon, and Time Magazine’s 1947 feature on Fritz Crisler’s Wolverine squad (one which would capture the national title) for details on Chappuis’ time spent behind enemy lines. They are both well worth your time.

To all the troops out there, as well as their friends and families, we truly appreciate everything you do to keep our great country safe and secure. Have a great Memorial Day, everyone.

  1. Pompano Buckeye said:

    Buckeye Fan here. One more Michigan man that I have never read anything about on any UM blogs. (I know his daughter)
    Bruce L. Hilkene (Nov. 4, 1925 – 1990) was the captain and starting left tackle of the undefeated 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team. The team defeated the USC Trojans 49-0 in the 1948 Rose Bowl and has been selected as the greatest Michigan football team of all time. Hilkene was named captain of the 1945 team but missed the season due to wartime service in the U.S. Navy. In 1947 he returned as captain. Hilkene later served for many years as an executive at General Motors. He was posthumously inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1992.

    • Pompano Buckeye said:

      Sorry, I should have credited Wikipedia with that entry above.

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