What do Americans love more than their football? Their freedom. On this Memorial Day, we honor and remember our NFL heroes who gave of themselves on and off the field.
Pat Tillman (Arizona Cardinals Safety, Arizona State University Linebacker) is the only NFL veteran killed in active duty since the Vietnam War. Tillman turned down a three year, 3.6 million dollar offer from the Cardinals to enlist in the Army following the attacks of September 11, 2001. He joined the U.S. Army Rangers in 2002 and served several tours of duty. Corporal Patrick Daniel Tillman was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
Bob Kalsu (Buffalo Bills Guard and Bills’ Rookie of the Year 1968, University of Oklahoma Tackle) entered the Army following his rookie season to satisfy his ROTC requirements. As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, Lieutenant Kalsu was killed in Vietnam on July 21, 1970.
Don Steinbrunner (Cleveland Browns Offensive Tackle, Washington State End) was called to serve in Vietnam following his rookie season in 1966. Steinbrunner was also an assistant football coach at the Air Force Academy. He served two years as an Air Force navigator and was offered a non combat position after being shot in the knee, but chose instead to return to his unit. He reasoned he was better prepared to serve than most. Major Steinbrunner’s plane was shot down over South Vietnam on July 20, 1967. He was honored with a Purple Heart posthumously.
World War II
Cpl. Mike Basca (HB, Philadelphia, 1941), Lt. Charlie Behan (E, Detroit, 1942), Maj. Keith Birlem (E, Cardinals-Washington, 1939), Lt. Al Blozis (T, Giants, 1942-1944), Lt. Chuck Braidwood (E, Portsmouth-Cleveland-Cardinals-Cincinnati, 1930-1933), Lt. Young Bussey (QB, Bears, 1940-1941), Lt. Jack Chevigny (Coach, Cardinals, 1932), Capt. Ed Doyle (E, Frankford-Pottsville, 1924-1925), Lt. Col. Grassy Hinton (B, Staten Island, 1932), Capt. Smiley Johnson (G, Green Bay, 1940-1941), Lt. Eddie Kahn (G, Boston/Washington, 1935-1937), Sgt. Alex Ketzko (T, Detroit, 1943), Capt. Lee Kizzire (FB, Detroit, 1937), Lt. Jack Lummus (E, Giants, 1941), Bob Mackert (T, Rochester Jeffersons, 1925), Frank Maher (B, Pittsburgh-Cleveland Rams, 1941), Pvt. Jim Mooney (E-G-FB, Newark-Brooklyn-Cincinnati-St. Louis-Cardinals, 1930-1937), Lt. John O’Keefe (Front office, Philadelphia), Chief Spec. Gus Sonnenberg (B, Buffalo-Columbus-Detroit-Providence, 1923-1928, 1930), Lt. Len Supulski (E, Philadelphia, 1942), Lt. Don Wemple (E, Brooklyn, 1941), Lt. Chet Wetterlund (HB, Cardinals-Detroit, 1942), Capt. Waddy Young (E, Brooklyn, 1939-1940). Courtesy: NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame
We remember you. We thank you. We salute you. Today and every day.