Sports guys and gals great but the really real heroes are the ones in uniforms

| December 30, 2010

Something different as we start a New Year and a second decade.

I have been privileged to sit, talk and interview the high and mighty of politics and sports.

To name just a few: A.B. “Happy” Chandler. Adolph Rupp and Paul “Bear” Bryant. Joe B. Hall. Rick Pitino, Denny Crum. Howard Schnellenberger. John Unitas. Babe Parilli. Bob Gain. Pete Rose. Sparky Anderson. John Wooden. Paul Hornung. Harry and Larry Jones. Bert Combs. Lawrence Wetherby. Louis Nunn. Martha Layne Collins. Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Bob Gibson. Blanton Collier. Ed Diddle. Paul McBrayer.

Ralph Carlisle. Pearl Combs and Morton Combs of Hindman and Carr Creek. Wah Wah Jones and his high school coach, Joe Gilly. Frank Camp. Peck Hickman. Paul Derringer. Steve Hamilton. Ellis Johnson. Bob Laughlin. John Bill Trivette. Fairce Woods. Jerry Jones.
Woodie Hayes. Harry Lancaster. Cliff Hagan and Bobby Watson. Warner Jones and Wathen Knebelkamp. Otis Singletary, the best president UK ever had. Speaking of UK presidents, I second the motion by John David Dyche that Crit Luallen would make a great president for UK.

Cawood Ledford – especially Cawood Ledford. And why doesn’t UK put his name in big letters out on the Rupp Arena court where everyone can see it? And on both sides of the floor, as U of L has done twice for Denny Crum, once at Freedom Hall and now at KFC Yum! Arena. Oh, I forgot. At UK, it’s what have you done for us lately and how much money have you contributed?

Ralph Beard and Mike Casey – goodness how I miss both of them.

Bain “Tiny” Jones. Bullet Wilson. Earle Jones. Turkey Hughes. Ralph Carlisle. Bill Kean and the rest of the Louisville Central High titans. S.T. Roach and Norman Passmore,,  their counterparts at Lexington Dunbar. Lyman Johnson. Clem Haskins. John Oldham. Ted Hornback, Paul McBrayer. Scoop Brown. Bobby and Chigger Flynn.

My cousins Johnny Cox of Hazard and Wes Cox of Louisville. Goebel Ritter. Frank Ramsey. Vernon Hatton. Pap Glenn. Nick Denes. Paulie Miller. Gene Rhodes. Dave Lawrence. Winston Bennett. Foster Brooks and his brother, Cactus Tom. Uncle Ed Kallay. Cap Rees. Roy Kidd. Ted Sanford, Joe Billy Mansfield, Tom Mills, Billy Wise, Louis Stout, Brigid DeVries, Julian Tackett and Johnny Ginn and all the rest of the KHSAA gang. Ed Ashford, Earl Ruby, Mike Barry, Billy Reed, Norman Isaacs, George Gill, the Binghams, Barry Sr. and Jr.
My closest friends from my hometown,,  Donald Brandenburg and Guy Strong.

Please remember those names and even I can’t remember them all so feel free to review them.

A chilling story

I ran across a great story recently, excerpts from a talk by Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly to a Marine society in St. Louis on Nov. 13. His son, Marine lst Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, had been killed in action four days earlier in southern Afghanistan while leading his platoon on a combat patrol.

This is just one paragraph from Gen. Kelly’s impressive, chilling speech:

“Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when men and women of character step forward to look danger and adversity in the eye, refusing to blink, or to give ground “¦ No, they are not victims but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims regardless of how and where they fall. Death, or fear of death, has no power over them. Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly made “¦ for you”¦.”

Pecking order

No matter how much I think of all the people mentioned above, the top of the list of my heroes start with about 100 men in Company H. of the National Guard in Estill County. No one had to draft them into the Army. Even,  before World War II, they had been called to Harlan County to keep peace between,  striking coal miners and men hired by their mine owners. During the 1937 flood, they were called to Frankfort to guard prisoners from the flooded State Prison. It was a funny feeling because some of the convicts from Estill County kept calling out to their friends in the Guard!

When World War II finally ended in 1945, not all of the men who had left with the National Guard made it back home. I’ll never forget the chilling day when one of my classmates got word that two of her brothers had gone down when their Navy ship was bombed out of the water in the Pacific.

Some of the National Guard members came to my high school and tried to recruit enough of us so a company could stay in the county. Because my brother and one of my cousins had been in the Guard company, several of my friends and I joined up.


At UK I took ROTC. I had so many jobs that they finally wore me down. I volunteered to enter the Army during the Korean War. When my training company was about half way through basic, the war ended, thank the good Lord. The Army was a snap for me. While at Fort Meade in Maryland, all of us were tested. About 12 out of 1,200 draftees qualified for Officer Candidate School. About 11 signed up. But it meant an extra year and I declined.

You can see how lucky I was, and why I have so much respect for the men and women in harm’s way trying to keep the fighting and killing away from us. All of us should thank them every day.

The next time you see a man or woman in uniform, tell them how much you respect them – and thank them for their service.

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Category: Sports

About the Author (Author Profile)

Earl Cox, Sports Columnist

Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.

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