Tag Archives: 1947

1947 Football Team

1947 Army 5-2-2 #11
1947/11/29 Army 21 – Navy 0 W

Coach: Earl Henry “Red” Blaik (February 15, 1897 – May 6, 1989)
Dartmouth 1934-1940 – 45-15-4
Army: 1941-1958 – 121-33-10
Overall: 166-48-14
Awards:
All-American, 1919
AFCA Coach of the Year (1946)
College Football Hall of Fame, Inducted in 1964

Howitzer 1948
http://digital-library.usma.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/howitzers/id/3416/

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Col Blaik  and backs

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News Articles

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ArmyFB_1947_BobbyJackStuart_byPap_OttawaCitizen_Nov81947

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“The season-ending defeat of Navy would launch another Army win streak, this one stretching to 27 games before the Cadets would lose again.”

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Arnold Tucker

From: Chuck Profilet <profilet@mediaone.net>
Date: Tuesday, June 15, 1999
Subject: Memorial Day – 1999
MEMORIAL DAY FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA MAY 31, 1999 By Charles W. Profilet, E-1, 58

Of particular interest to 58 is the guest speaker at the luncheon. Lt. Col. Arnold Tucker, USAF Retired, USMA 47, was the speaker. Dedicated fans of Army football recognize the name of “Young Arnold Tucker” as the All-American quarterback of the 44, 45, and 46 undefeated Army football teams with Blanchard and Davis as running backs. Some of the class in 1st Regiment remembers him as Company Tactical Officer for Co. F-1 during our plebe and yearling years. Col. Tucker spoke from the heart with stories from his cadet days, his Air Force career, and duty at West Point. Four short stories among many are worthy of sharing with you.

Col. Tucker’s high school classmate went on to attend the Naval Academy and ended up as Captain of the Navy Team for the 1946 Army-Navy game. At some point in the game he and his friend, Bruce Smith, collided. Tucker helped his friend up, spoke to him and proceeded back to the huddle. During film review, Col. Blaik made note of Tucker assisting the Navy. They remain today life long friends.

Arnold Tucker

After graduation and flying training Tucker was assigned to a transport squadron in Japan. Soon selected as aide-de-camp for the commanding general, MG Edward H. White, USMA 24, he was notified that the Air Force had agreed with an Army request, unknown to Tucker, to return him to West Point for the football season as an assistant backfield coach. He objected and asked to stay in Japan with his wife and mother-in-law. Finally the Army Athletic Association informed him that the Association would pay all expenses for his family, if he would return to help the Army team. He finally accepted the assignment with the agreement of General White to return to Japan after the season. With a smile he noted that the assignment as assistant backfield coach was a “piece of cake”. Why? The backfield coach was Vince Lombardi.

Following two years as a Company Tactical Officer, he was assigned to the Commandant’s staff and given an assignment to oversee updating the Blue Book. One of many changes he made was to place Flirtation Walk on limits at night. He asked the cadets present if Flirty was still on limits. A weak “yes sir” suggested that today’s cadets might not see Flirtation Walk in the same light as those classes who were restricted to West Point most of the four years.

Col. Tucker ended on a sad but proud note. In 1967 he was stationed at Cape Kennedy, when a fire aboard the Apollo capsule killed three NASA Astronauts. LTC Edward H. White, II, USMA 52, son of COL Tucker’s commander in Japan, and the first man to walk in space perished in the fire. At the request of the family, Col. Tucker accompanied Ed White’s remains to West Point for burial.

2 Army A’s in Football

Football’s Greatest Decade – – by Bernie Mcarty – http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/CFHSN/CFHSNv01/CFHSNv01n1b – – see page 5

This writer believes West Point 1945 is the greatest team of all time. The 1944 Army team may actually deserve that title, but it was never tested. Army was also undefeated in 1946, 1948 and 1949.

Army’s top stars during 1945-1949 were the effulgent “Touchdown Twins”, Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard, Arnold Tucker, Arnold Galiffa, Rip Rowan, Bobby Jack Stuart and Gil Stephenson in the back-field, and up front” Joe Steffy”, Art Gerometta, Jack Green, “Bill Yoemans”, Joe Henry “Tex” Coulter,Al Nemetz, and the sterling end duo of Hank Foldberg and Barney Poole.

In 1945 the Newspaper Enterprise Assoc. simply picked the entire Army team as its All-American team, stating no group of All-Americans could beat the Cadets. Only a world war could have brought together such a collection of players to one institution. But it took the coaching genius of Col. Earl Blaik to mold the players into a cohesive unit. In truth, Navy personnel was equal to Army’s on an individual basis. The Middies never jelled as a team, however.

The 1951 Army outfit might have been as good as the 1945 Cadets, but the infamous cribbing scandal wiped out the team.

tucker as cadet

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Lt Colonel Retired Young Arnold Tucker of Palmetto Bay, Florida, passed away on January 10, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Born January 05, 1924 in Calhoun Falls, South Carolina, Arnold or “Tuck” as he was known, was a loving and dedicated husband to his wife of 51 years, Patricia (Small) Tucker, and father to his two children, Tom and Patty. He was well known in Miami in the 1940’s for his academic and athletic excellence. He attended Citrus Grove Junior High School where he was an Honour student and a recipient of the American Legion Award for athletic leadership and good citizenship.

At Miami Senior High School, he was a member of the National Honour Society and the Key Club, Captain of the basketball team, and selected “All State” basketball player for two years. In football he was the “Running Tailback” on the team which won the Southern High School Championship, was selected as a member of the “All State” and “All Southern” football teams and received the Miami High Sigma Nu Trophy as outstanding athlete for the years 42-43. He was later inducted into the Miami High School Hall of Fame.

Tuck enlisted in the US Navy V-12 Program in June of 1943. As a Naval Assignee he attended the University of Florida and transferred to the University of Miami. As a freshman, he was a member of the varsity basketball and football teams and was awarded the “Iron Man Trophy” for exceptional football participation.

He was discharged from the Navy in July of 1944 in order to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated from the USMA and was commissioned a second lieutenant in June of 1947. While a Cadet at West Point, he was Captain of the basketball team and Quarterback on the undefeated National Championship football team for three years. He was designated an “All-American” football player in 1946. He was awarded the James E. Sullivan trophy by the National Amateur Athletic Union as the United States Amateur Athlete for 1946. He was known as “Mr. Topside” in the same backfield with “Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside,” Doc Blanchard and Glen Davis.

After graduating from Army Air Corps pilot training, he served as a Bomber Pilot of the B29 with the 307th Bomb Wing at Mac Dill AFB Tampa, Florida as well as a Line Pilot with Military Airlift Command Tokyo, Japan. He also had assignments as Aide De Camp to the Commanding General and was Commanding Officer of the Headquarters Squadron and served as an Operations Officer.

Tuck was assigned as an assistant football coach to Coach Vince Lombardi at West Point while also serving a 4-year tour from 1953-1957 as a tactical officer in the Commandant of Cadets Office.

He graduated from the Air Force Command and Staff College and served a four-year tour of duty at Headquarters US Air Forces, Pentagon Building, Washington D.C. He received an MBA degree from George Washington University in 1963 and then served a four-year tour of duty as Chief of the Telemetry Division of the Airforce Eastern Test Range, Cocoa Beach, Florida from 1963 to 1967. In 1967 he was stationed at Cape Kennedy, when a fire aboard the Apollo capsule killed three NASA Astronauts. LTC Edward H. White, II, USMA 52, son of COL Tucker’s commander in Japan, and the first man to walk in space perished in the fire. At the request of the family, Col. Tucker accompanied Ed White’s remains to West Point for burial.

Tuck served four years in direct support of the Vietnamese War as Director of Airlift, 5th Air Force Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan, as Commander of the C130 Gunship Squadron, Ubon, Thailand and as Chief Special Operations Division, 7th Air Force, Saigon Vietnam.

His last active duty military assignment was from 1971-1974 as the Professor of Aerospace Studies (AFROTC), University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. He retired after 31 years of continuous active duty at Homestead AFB, Florida in June 1974.

After Military Retirement he was employed by the University of Miami for two years as the Assistant Director of Athletics for Sales and Promotions.

He received many medals and accommodations, just to name a few: The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Bronze Star Medal, The Meritorious Service Medal, NCAAF College Football Hall of Fame, United States Military Academy Athletic Hall of Fame, and North Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.

Tuck was predeceased by his wife Patricia (Small) Tucker, one brother Dick Allen Tucker (1920-1943) who was shot down in Europe while serving as a fighter pilot in WW2. 1st Lt. Dick Allen Tucker is buried at Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England.

Also preceded by his mother, Sara Victoria (Callahan) Tucker, his father, Floyd Allen Tucker (1893-1970), one sister, Sylvia Victoria Tucker, and his son, Thomas Tucker. He is survived by one daughter, Patricia Nugent, son-in-law, Patrick Nugent, two grandsons, Zachary Cooke and Patrick Nugent II, all of Miami, Florida, and one daughter-in-law, Tina Tucker of Holiday, Florida.

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https://footballfoundation.org/news/2019/1/16/college-football-hall-of-famer-and-army-legend-arnold-tucker-passes-away.aspx

 

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Glenn Davis


Glenn Davis in 1944 — He played Fullback until Doc Blanchard arrived

The Webster’s dictionary definition of a gentleman barely does justice to Glenn Davis. Ask Joe Shelton ’44, a Firstie in Glenn’s company when Glenn was a Plebe. Ask — —, ’50, a Plebe who went on calls to Glenn’s room when Glenn was a Firstie and was perhaps the most celebrated athlete in America. Ask Joe Steffy ’49, Glenn’s Classmate and Outland Trophy Winner. Each gives the same response when asked about Glenn: a very fine person, a gentleman.
Glenn Davis: a gentleman in the tradition of the 19th century. A genleman as Robert E Lee was a gentleman.

Glenn Davis: “The Real Touchdown Twin”

by David Pietrusza

Despite being dubbed the “Touchdown Twins,” Army’s Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard were not identical physical specimens. Doc Blanchard, at 6’0″ and 205 pounds, was by far the bigger of the two football legends. The 5’9″, 170 pound Davis, however, may have been the better natural athlete.

At the Point Davis lettered not only in football but in baseball, basketball and track. And he did not just letter. On the diamond the center fielder’s arm was described as “whiplike,” and he was good enough to earn Branch Rickey’s comment that he could fetch a $75,000 bonus. Coming from a man with a reputation for tossing dollars around like man-hole covers, that was high praise indeed.

Even in his full football uniform Glenn Davis could flat out run, covering 100 yards in less than ten seconds Perhaps most impressive though was his performance on the “Master of the Sword” test the Military Academy devised to test the athletic prowess of future officers. Out of a possible 1,000 points on such diverse events as a 300-yard-run, dodge run, vertical jump, parallel bar dips, softball throw, sit-ups, chin-ups, and the standing broad jump, the average cadet scored 540. Davis posted a 926.5 mark, the all-time record.

While Davis was not, however, Doc Blanchard’s physical twin, he was his brother Ralph’s twin. Ralph was named for their father, a southern California bank manager, but it was Glenn who was always known as “Junior.” Why? He was born ninety minutes after his “older” brother.

The Davis twins were nearly inseparable. They double-dated together, played harmless juvenile pranks together, and planned on attending USC together. But instead Congressman Jerry Voorhis (later defeated for re-election by a young war veteran named Richard Nixon) offered Glenn a berth at West Point. Glenn said yes but only if brother Ralph could come along.

No problem, said the Army, bring him along.

Glenn Davis had already distinguished himself as an athlete, being a four-letter man in high school and winning the Knute Rockne trophy as Southern California’s outstanding schoolboy track star. In football he scored 263 points his senior year.

Davis debuted for Army during the 1943 season, running for eight TDs and passed for four more. West Point, which recently had been a football laughingstock, finished with a respectable 7-2-1 mark. It was a decent start for both Davis and his team, but it hardly gave any hint of the true greatness to come.

Football, however, was not the only thing on Davis’ mind in 1943 – or maybe it was. Even though he rose at four each morning to cram in his studies, he still failed math and was in the parlance of the Academy “found” deficient. That meant he was kindly asked to leave the Academy that December to study even harder for re-admission.

Davis succeeded, returning to West Point the next fall but having to repeat his plebe year. That had its benefits. During World War II West Point was graduating classes in three years rather than four. Davis’ lack of numerical expertise gave him another year on the gridiron – and ultimately the Heisman Trophy.

In 1944 Davis came into his own, leading the nation with an average of 11.5 yards per carry and in total scoring with 120 total points. Blanchard and Davis, “Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside,” paced Army to an undefeated and untied season–it’s first since 1916. The Black Knights scored a fearsome 504 points, 56 per game, second only to 1904 Michigan’s 58.9. Army rightfully earned the Lambert Trophy, the Williams Trophy, and the Williamson Plaque.

Davis secured the Maxwell Trophy, the Walter Camp Trophy, and the Helm Foundation Award, but finished second to Ohio State’s Les Horvath for the Heisman.

Speed was his forte, but it was hardly the only weapon in his arsenal. “He also possessed,” Bob Carroll, the founder of the Professional Football Researcher’s Association (PFRA), noted, “a devastating change of pace, a powerful leg drive, and a strong stiff arm.”

Despite his natural ability the grind occasionally wore on Davis. Football required an hour and a half of grueling practice each day -in addition to the three hours of physical education required weekly of each cadet. And, of course, there was the obligation of academics and the specter of another failed math course. “I never used to think about taking a daytime nap,” Davis admitted, “Now I get sleepy every time I see a sofa.”

Army went on to another perfect season in 1945 and at Yankee Stadium defeated Navy for the national championship. Davis’s 49-yard touchdown helped.

For the year Davis scored 108 points and led the nation with 11.5 yards per carry. Such a performance inspired the great Grantland Rice to write in November 1945: “Davis is not only one of the fastest backs that ever lugged a football on any field at any time, but he is also a strong running back who isn’t easy to bring down.”

And those who actually had to face him were even more impressed. “Every time Davis touched the ball,” said Columbia’s Gene Rossides, “it would be like an electric current going through the defending team.”

Yet, it was Doc Blanchard, who led the nation in total scoring and captured the 1945 Heisman. Still when Blanchard accepted his trophy in January 1946, he told the audience: “I’d have voted for Glenn Davis.”

All eyes were on Army’s squad as it began its 1946 season. Both Blanchard and Davis returned for another season. Their teammates elected the “Touchdown Twins” as the first co-captains in Army football history, and they graced the cover of Life magazine.

That was the good news. Just about every other indicator was bad. First and foremost, the nation’s civilian schools now benefitted from demobilization. West Point and Annapolis would no longer have their pick of athletic talent. the competition was getting equalized.

Secondly, after the some acrimonious public wrangling team lost one of its stars, Thomas “Shorty” McWilliams, who was allowed to resign from the Academy.

And against Villanova in the season’s first game, Doc Blanchard hurt his knee and was never again at peak form. Davis had to pick up the slack. Perhaps his greatest moment came against Michigan when he rushed for 105 yards and caught seven passes for an additional 159 yards. Beyond that, he intercepted two passes and even threw a pass for a another touchdown.

Legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik praised him as “the best player I have seen, anywhere, any time.”

Despite increased competition and Blanchard’s ills, 1946 Army squad still remained undefeated; the only blot on its record being a scoreless tie against Notre Dame, which dethroned the Black Knights as national champions.

Red Blaik had no apologies and ranked his 1946 Black Knights as superior than either the 1944 or the 1945 teams. “I reserve the warmest affection and the greatest respect for the 1946 team,” he once wrote, ” which, in the face of adversities, playing the best of college opposition, completely and thoroughly demonstrated its right to be classed as great.” Much as Davis had placed second in 1944 and 1945 for the Heisman, Blaik had come in second for Coach of the Year honors both seasons. In 1946 he captured the award.

And Glenn Davis finally won his Heisman. The glory was now his. Also bestowed on him were the Maxwell Trophy, the Walter Camp Trophy, and the Associated Press designation of Male Athlete of the Year. He might have also garnered the Sullivan Trophy — but in an administrative snafu his name had been left off the ballot

The Heisman vote:

Player                    School           Total

1 Glenn Davis Army 792

2 Charles Trippi Georgia 435

3 Johnny Lujack Notre Dame 379

4 Doc Blanchard Army 267

5 Arnold Tucker Army 257

6 Herman Wedemeyer St. Mary's 101

7 Burr Baldwin UCLA 49

8 Bobby Layne Texas 45

By the time Davis had hung up his Army spikes he has posted some prodigious numbers:

                   RUSHING            PASS RECEIVING         SCORE

YEAR ATT YDS AVG NO YDS AVG TD TOTAL

1943 95 634 6.7 7 68 9.7 1 48

1944 58 667 *11.5 13 221 17 4 *120

1945 82 944 *11.5 5 213 42.6 0 108

1946 123 712 5.8 20 348 17.4 5 78

Totals 358 2957 8.3 45 850 18.9 10 354

* – Led the nation

In his 38 games for Army Davis had scored 59 touchdowns. Twenty-seven were over 37 yards, with his longest being 87.

The NFL’s Detroit Lions drafted Davis, and both he and Blanchard had wanted to pursue pro football careers after graduating. But the Secretary of the Army refused to allow such activity, and the only football action the duo saw in 1947 was on the set of a low-budget film called The Spirit of West Point. The picture was hardly memorable, but it had its place in football history. During filming, Davis tore cartilage and ligaments in his right knee. They never healed properly.

Red Blaik had once commented about Davis that he was “as bashful as a girl on her first date, even though he is an All-America.” That may have been true, but it did not stop the very eligible bachelor from being seen with a number of Hollywood’s most attractive young starlets. Still in the Army, he dated Ann Blyth and after meeting Elizabeth Taylor at a touch football game on the beach (where else?), they became an item. Just before Davis shipped off for Korea, the couple became engaged (“When I saw that frank, wonderful face, I thought, ‘This is the boy'”), but Taylor proved less reliable than Doc Blanchard and the engagement was off. He was later married briefly to actress Terry Moore before marrying the beautiful Ellen Harriet Lancaster Slack.

After completing his obligatory three-year Army hitch, Davis returned to football, signing with the Los Angeles Rams in 1950 and powering them to 9-3-0 record, good enough for a tie with George Halas’s Chicago Bears. They defeated the Bears 24-14 but fell to the Browns in that year’s Championship Game 30-28.

Davis had lead the Rams in rushing, scoring seven touchdowns, but thought the injury he had suffered during The Spirit of West Point’s filming and the four-year layoff had taken their toll on his skills. “I was as good a player as a senior in high school,” he once modestly said, “as I was with the Rams.” After just one more season in the NFL he called it quits.

For three decades he worked as special events director for the Los Angeles Times, earning the respect of those around him. “West Point,” said one sports writer a half-century ago, “might make an officer out of Glenn Davis, but he’s already a gentleman.”

Here is what was said at his passing

As most of you know, Glenn Davis – Army’s fabled “Mr. Outside” — recently passed away, and was buried adjacent to his revered coach, Red Blaik, at the West Point cemetery on March 18th. It was a bright day, with Glenn’s widow, Yvonne, there as well as a number of the Davis family. Many of Glenn’s teammates were there to bear witness, along with other friends and sports luminaries. Interestingly, Bobby Ross, and the entire West Point football coaching staff — Every one of them — were there, along with Joe Bellino, Navy’s first Heisman award winner.

Pete Dawkins was asked to speak on behalf of the heritage of generations of the Army team.

Glenn Davis’ Funeral
March 18, 2005

It goes without saying that Glenn was a remarkably gifted athlete, whose achievements stand tall in the annals of West Point, and in the history of sport in America. For that, he earned our undying respect, and deep admiration.

But, to me, Glenn was so much more, besides.

Over the past week, his passing caused me to think a lot about, “What makes a life?” – and, “Just what is it that made Glenn’s life so memorable, and so special?”

I’m not at all sure that I’ve found the answer but, in my musings, three remembrances came to stand out, that I thought would be appropriate to share with you today.

First, it’s important to remember that Glenn was not just a great star, he was also a great teammate. Even in the face of the torrent of notoriety – that, weekly, blustered with headlines bulging the wonder of his personal exploits (and often those of Doc Blanchard, “Mr. Inside”, as well) Glenn thought of Steffy and Tucker and Poole and Foldberg .. and all the others, too. And he understood, without any question in his mind, that it was the team – not just the marvel of his personal performance – that brought victory, and truly deserved the accolade of success.

It wasn’t forced, or false, or pretend, or clever, or calculated, or conscious, or contrived. It was Glenn. Given West Point, and the times, it seemed natural, and the right way to think – and behave. But in contrast with so many of our “sports-idols” of today, we can truly relish Glenn’s dignity and quiet humility.

My second reflection is related, in that it was Glenn’s humility that made his prodigious talent “human” – and accessible. During the season of 1946, I was 8 years old. Yet Glenn’s impact on my life was very personal – and powerful. It wasn’t just that he was a star. It wasn’t just that he had “explosive” speed and uncanny balance. It was something more. Glenn had about him a grace… a kind of majesty. A personal aura that touched the spirit of a young 8-year old in Michigan. In a way that I can’t fully explain, it was beguiling. Looking back, I realize that it kindled my youthful imagination, and sparked – for me – the allure of West Point, and the dream of the Army team.

Now, it occurs to me that there was a third distinctive attribute that Glenn shared with all of us who came to know him well: his friendship. I knew him for a little more than 40 years. Many of you here knew him quite a bit longer. The truth is, Glenn and I didn’t see one another all that frequently. Most often, it was in conjunction with some sort of Heisman affair. But it was the kind of friendship where we picked up exactly where we had left off the last time, without missing a single beat.

In more recent times, after he and Yvonne were married, Judi and I — and the two of them — seemed to often find ourselves together at the end of the evening. I look back on those as treasured times. We talked, and laughed, and reminisced, and speculated on times ahead.

I always came away feeling refreshed. Glenn had a disarming directness, and selflessness about him that was very special. He never complained; instinctively dwelled on the positive half of everything; and came up with some of the most unexpected, and insightful, perspectives anyone could ever imagine.

It seems to me that there’s little more you could ask for in a friendship than this.

Last fall, during half-time at the TCU game, a group of us were asked to assemble in Michie stadium, at the 50 yard line of Blaik field. As Glenn was feeling the difficulties of his therapy at that time, he slipped his arm into mine, and asked if I would escort him onto the field. On our way out, he began to apologize for needing my help. I interrupted him in mid-sentence and told him, “Listen to me: Glenn Davis never, ever needs to apologize to me.” In fact, I told him that in all the years I had known him, and been with him – and, in fact, at that very moment – all my eyes ever saw was the strong, fresh, sculptured form of my boyhood idol.

What I said was the absolute truth. And I believe I saw him rise up a little more erect. And stride forward with strength and confidence.

“What is it that makes a good life?” He knew. And, in truth, that was the way he lived.

We miss you, Glenn. All of us do. But, more importantly, we will remember you — long, and well.

Godspeed, good friend.

http://apse.dallasnews.com/contest/2004/writing/over250/over250_columns_first1.html

http://www.heisman.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/031005aaa.html

http://archive.recordonline.com/archive/2004/11/19/losportm.htm

Football’s Greatest Decade – – by Bernie Mcarty –
http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/CFHSN/CFHSNv01/CFHSNv01n1b – – see page 5

This writer believes West Point 1945 is the greatest team of all time. The 1944 Army team may actually deserve that title, but it was never tested. Army was also undefeated in 1946, 1948 and 1949.

Army’s top stars during 1945-1949 were the effulgent “Touchdown Twins”, Glenn Davis and “Doc” Blanchard, Arnold Tucker, Arnold Galiffa, “Rip” Rowan, Bobby Jack Stuart and Gil Stephenson in the back-field, and up front Joe Steffy, Art Gerometta, Jack Green, Bill Yoemans, Joe Henry “Tex” Coulter, Al Nemetz, and the sterling end duo of Hank Foldberg and Barney Poole.

In 1945 the Newspaper Enterprise Assoc. simply picked the entire Army team as its All-American team, stating no group of All-Americans could beat the Cadets.

Only a world war could have brought together such a collection of players to one institution. But it took the coaching genius of Col. Earl Blaik to mold the players into a cohesive unit.

In truth, Navy personnel was equal to Army’s on an individual basis. The Middies never jelled as a team, however.

The 1951 Army outfit might have been as good as the 1945 Cadets, but the
infamous cribbing scandal wiped out the team.

Doc Blanchard

ArmyFB_1945_Felix-Doc-Blanchard

Doc Blanchard 1944

3 Army A’s in Football

The sporting public first took notice of Blanchard in the 1944 season, when he starred in Army’s 59-0 pasting of Notre Dame, the worst defeat in the school’s history. “Blanchard,” noted one press account, “employed mainly as a decoy in the Army attack, played a spectacular game, bursting half the eardrums of the 74,437 spectators in the third period with a block that made possible [a] scoring return of a punt.” And the New York Times observed Blanchard was “even more poisonous on the defense than he was running the ball.”

Blanchard’s overall performance stunned Notre Dame coach Ed McKeever who wired back to South Bend: “Have just seen Superman in the flesh. He wears Number 35 and goes by the name of Blanchard.”

Doc Blanchard:
The Army War Machine

by David Pietrusza

Dr. Felix Anthony Blanchard, Sr. bestowed three things to his son, 1945 Heisman Trophy winner, “Doc” Blanchard:

-his name

-his nickname, “Doc”

-his love of football

They were not necessarily in that order.

The senior Blanchard (a hefty 240 pounds) starred at fullback at both Tulane and Wake Forest (under the name “Beaulieu,” so his father wouldn’t know what he was up to) and provided his son and namesake with a lifelong love for football. He took no chances whatsoever on how the boy would turn out, placing miniature footballs in the infant’s crib. At age 2 1/2 young “Little Doc” had gotten the message and was cajoling an aunt into holding a football for him to practice kicking.

In high school Blanchard starred for Bay St. Louis, Mississippi’s St. Stanislaus Prep (the senior Blanchard was team physician for that squad) and played fullback in New Orleans’ Toy Bowl. For a while Little Doc thought of attending Tulane, but finally opted not for Army’s that would come later – but for North Carolina, where his mother’s first cousin, Jim Tatum, coached the freshman squad. At Chapel Hill Blanchard was a terror both on and off the field. “Once,” recalled the team’s trainer, “the knocked out two would-be tacklers on the same play.” On another occasion, he ripped a steam radiator off the floor, when he became annoyed at a hotel manager.

World War II cut short his North Carolina career. In 1943, at the end of his freshman year, Blanchard tried to enlist in the Navy, but was rejected for poor eyesight (as a boy one eye was damaged when another lad literally threw mud in it) and for being overweight. The Army had no such qualms about Blanchard – or about several million other young men for that matter — and he joined that branch of the service as a buck private.

Before long, however, Blanchard gained acceptance to West Point, but before he entered the military academy, his father passed away. The move to West Point was a move he had heartily approved, however. “My dad,” Blanchard recollects, “always thought that to be successful in college athletics the place to go play was in the Northeast, and I think he was probably right.”

The sporting public first took notice of Blanchard in the 1944 season, when he starred in Army’s 59 – 0 pasting of Notre Dame, the worst defeat in the school’s history. “Blanchard,” noted one press account, “employed mainly as a decoy in the Army attack, played a spectacular game, bursting half the eardrums of the 74,437 spectators in the third period with a block that made possible [a] scoring return of a punt.” And the New York Times observed Blanchard was “even more poisonous on the defense than he was running the ball.”

In that contest, Blanchard was deadly not only to the fighting Irish but also to anyone in his path. One official made the mistake of getting in the way of a Blanchard tackle. Doc bowled him over, dislocating one of the poor man’s elbows in the process

“He just happened to be where I was,” says Blanchard in his matter-of-fact manner.

Blanchard’s overall performance stunned Notre Dame coach Ed McKeever who wired back to South Bend: “Have just seen Superman in the flesh. He wears Number 35 and goes by the name of Blanchard.”

God-only-knows what the official with the non-working elbow had to say.

Army Coach Earl “Red” Blaik was never known for his braggadocio, but even he had to admit: “I never saw anybody like Blanchard before….He has the weight of a fullback and the speed of a halfback.”

Of course, Doc Blanchard had a little help on that Army team, such as center “Tex Coulter”, tackle Al Nemetz, guard Jack Green and quarterback Arnold Tucker. But most significant, of course, was Glenn Davis. As Blanchard barreled through all opposition, earning the nickname “Mr. Inside,” (a name bestowed on him by the New York Sun’s George Trevor) Davis took a more circuitous route, and became known as “Mr. Outside”.

Their styles emphasized different strengths. I was strong in the “legs,” Blanchard once observed, “I had good acceleration for my size, good quickness. I wasn’t what you would call a speed guy, like Glenn.”

Earl Blaik once explained what made Blanchard unique: “Imagine a big bruising fullback who runs one hundred yards in ten seconds flat, who kicks off into the end zone, who punts fifty yards, who can also sweep the flank as well as rip the middle, who catches laterals or forward passes with sure-fingered skill, and who makes his own interference. That’s Mr. Blanchard.”

“Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside” ran roughshod over their opponents. Red Blaik gushed about his Touchdown Twins, “I doubt if any team ever had two such players in the backfield at the same time.”

Army was an absolute powerhouse. In its first six 1945 contests, it outscored opponents 271 to 33. For the season, the Black Knights captured the Lambert Trophy as the best college team in the East.

Army went 27-0-1 in 1944-46, Blanchard’s three seasons at the Point. In 1944 and 1945 the going was so easy, Blaik had plenty of opportunities to use his substitutes – and took every one. Army’s first and second teams averaged just eighteen minutes per game, and even the fourth stringers got plenty of work.

Of course, being a service team in an era when college squads were being stripped of their able-bodied personnel was a decided advantage to the Military Academy. “Sure they had an advantage,” Blanchard readily admits, “They had access to all the people in the service, and all the people that were over 18 were in the service. So they were just drafting people out of the service.”

When Army beat Navy 23-7 in 1945, Blanchard (“205 pounds of charging wild buffalo,” as one account of the game described him) allegedly felt a special someone was there to help: his late father. “He was there…,” a sentimental reporter quoted Blanchard as saying, “I could feel him patting me on the back after each play and saying, ‘Hit like your daddy did, son.'”

It’s a good story, a darn good story. There’s only one problem with it: it’s just not a accurate story.

“Well, I’ve read that [story] too,” says Blanchard, “I don’t recall it. I’ll say it’s not exactly true.”

Receiving the 1945 Heisman

Blanchard, however, could have used a little extra assistance in that contest. All season long he had been engaged in a good-natured touchdown rivalry with Davis. Going into the game, the last of the campaign, the Touchdown Twins were, er, identical, tied sixteen-all in that category. Against the Midshipmen, Davis TD’ed twice; Blanchard, three times.

That may have been enough to put him over the top in Heisman balloting. When the votes were announced in December 1945, Blanchard outpointed his teammate 860 to 638. Far back were St. Mary’s Squirmin’ Herman Wedemeyer (152), Alabama’s Harry Gilmer (132), Notre Dame’s Frank Dancewicz (56), Ohio State’s Warren Amling (42), and Indiana’s Pete Pihos (38).

Blanchard was the first junior to win the Heisman (“in those days they sent the news via Western Union; I got a telegram”), and also captured the Maxwell and Touchdown Club trophies as the year’s best college player. He and Davis even jointly made the November 12, 1945 cover of Time magazine. Blanchard, Davis and their teammates, Coulter, Green, and Nemetz, each achieved All-American status.

Temple coach Ray Morrison marvelled at Blanchard’s remarkable 1945 season: “Doc Blanchard was a colossus who, experts insist, is the fullback of all time. Blanchard turned loose more raw power against Army opponents than has been seen since the days of Bronko Nagurski. In addition, Blanchard ran with greater speed and finesse than even the great Nagurski.”

Unlike a major league pitcher who seemingly can recall every pitch he ever threw to every batter, Blanchard doesn’t wallow in past glories. When asked about the most memorable play in his Heisman season, he harrumphs: “You’re stressing me now. Hell, you’re talking to a guy who can’t remember what he had for breakfast. You want me to remember the most memorable play of fifty years ago? C’mon. I don’t have one that I can remember.”

But he does have a few games he savors: “Navy was the big game, although Notre Dame in 1944 was a big time game for us because of the history of the series’ won-lost record and all that stuff.”

And there was a moment in Blanchard’s West Point career that transcended even a Heisman Trophy: being part of the honor guard at President Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral at nearby Hyde Park, New York.

One might think Blanchard’s status as the nation’s premier college football star might have played a part in his selection. It didn’t. It was more a matter of which unit he was assigned to at the Academy. “They picked some people from West Point to go over and attend,” says Blanchard, “The group that I was assigned to went, so I got to go.”

Blanchard’s 1946 senior season was marred by torn knee ligaments he suffered in that campaign’s first game. But he recovered to run for 613 yards (a 5.1 average)and score ten touchdowns and once again be designated an All-American. He finished his career with 38 touchdowns and 1,666 yards rushing. Still on the squad, was Glenn Davis-who after two runner-up finishes – finally captured a Heisman for himself.

Blanchard had his eye on a pro career, but the War Department vetoed that idea. He remained in service until 1969, serving as a fighter pilot in both Korea and Vietnam.

http://www.collegefootball.org/famersearch.php?page=1&submitted=1&school=Army&sortby=school

http://www.sccotton.org/blanchard.htm

http://www.heisman.com/winners/d-blanchard45.html

Football’s Greatest Decade – – by Bernie Mcarty – http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/CFHSN/CFHSNv01/CFHSNv01n1b – – see page 5

This writer believes West Point 1945 is the greatest team of all time. The 1944 Army team may actually deserve that title, but it was never tested. Army was also undefeated in 1946, 1948 and 1949.

Army’s top stars during 1945-1949 were the effulgent “Touchdown Twins”, Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard, Arnold Tucker, Arnold Galiffa, Rip Rowan, Bobby Jack Stuart and Gil Stephenson in the back-field, and up front” Joe Steffy”, Art Gerometta, Jack Green, “Bill Yoemans”, Joe Henry “Tex” Coulter,Al Nemetz, and the sterling end duo of Hank Foldberg and Barney Poole.

In 1945 the Newspaper Enterprise Assoc. simply picked the entire Army team as its All-American team, stating no group of All-Americans could beat the Cadets. Only a world war could have brought together such a collection of players to one institution. But it took the coaching genius of Col. Earl Blaik to mold the players into a cohesive unit. In truth, Navy personnel was equal to Army’s on an individual basis. The Middies never jelled as a team, however.

The 1951 Army outfit might have been as good as the 1945 Cadets, but the infamous cribbing scandal wiped out the team.

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Felix Blanchard

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Felix "Doc" Blanchard running the football

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as depicted by sport’s cartoonists

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Awesome reading …. and 1957 was the year I started watching “college football”, as a 12-year-old. This research came about, from reading a letter in “Reminisce” magazine ( January 2007 issue, found stored in my attic). A “Bin” (Vince) Barta, wrote about his Army football days (56/57), and mentioned “Doc” (Felix) Blanchard (Mr. Inside), as having coached Vince for a year. I was stationed in Korat, Thailand, in 67/68, and had the “honor” of fitting L/Col “Doc” Blanchard for his flight gear, to fly “100 Missions over North Vietnam”, in an F-105 fighter. Not the time for a conversation with “Doc”, but I mentioned that I remembered “Mr. Inside”, which brought a smile, and thank you from him. “Doc” did complete his “100 missions” with the 388th TFW, and was promoted to “bird Colonel”, before being re-assigned to Kadena AFB, in Okinawa. Sadly, Felix “Doc” Blanchard has passed on (4/19/2009, at age 84). It’s pretty amazing what reading an article can do, to bring back a memory. If I recall correctly, 1957 was the year that Notre Dame defeated Oklahoma, 7-0, snapping a 47 game winning streak, of “Bud Wilkenson’s Sooners”. “Dick Lynch” scored the touchdown, in what has to be one of the great college football games ever. Nothing like reliving great memories.