GENERAL ANTHONY C. McAULIFFE
Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Army in Europe
Yes. I never made my letter at West Point, but I played baseball and basketball and continued with polo after graduation. Sports taught me timing, coordination and self-confidence. They also taught me to make quick decisions—to take hard knocks as well as give them.
ADMIRAL JOCKO CLARK
U.S. Seventh Fleet in Pacific
There sure was. Without it, I doubt that I could have taken the guff and woe, of which there is plenty in the service. After graduation I become the athletic officer on the battleship North Carolina. There is nothing like athletics for the esprit de corps of a warship.
THOMAS A. NIELSON
New York Police Dept.
Sandlot baseball and football were my sports. You took the hard knocks or you didn't play. Surprisingly, unsupervised sandlot games also taught sportsmanship. Without the ability to take hard knocks and be a sport about it, you get nowhere in New York's "Finest."
LIEUT. COL. ROBERT F. WAGNER
Mayor of New York
Yes. I was a "plugger" in basketball and lacrosse at Yale and always got the worst of the rough going. I also managed the baseball team. In combat, when you're up there, you know that you've got to give it or get the worst of it. I was lucky. The star athletes were on my side.
FLEET ADMIRAL WILLIAM F. HALSEY
Yes. Hugh B. Miller played on two Alabama Rose Bowl teams. In the war, his ship sunk and his guts almost shot out, he got to shore. Overpowering a Jap, he used his grenades to wipe out a Jap squad. Me? I was always nervous in football. In combat, I shook a little, too. Never got over it.
REAR ADMIRAL ARLEIGH A. BURKE
Chief of Naval Operations
Yes. Athletics are a vital part of Navy education. Every midshipman must engage in athletics. The day comes when an officer may trade broadsides with the enemy, weave his submarine in and out of a convoy or dogfight in the air. The officer with an athletic background has the advantage.
LIEUT. GEN. THOMAS W. HERREN
Athletics have helped all through my life. I belonged to the horse cavalry and also played polo for 25 years. In polo, your reflexes are sharpened. You learn to think fast and under stress. This carries into the field and, when under stress, helps you make instant decisions.
MAJ. GEN. BRENDAN A. BURNS
42nd Infantry Division
Yes, as valuable as academic training. During four landing operations in the last war, the nervous tension and the stomach butterflies you experience in football were all too familiar. We actually found ourselves using football terms and tactics—through center, around end.
LIEUT. GEN. BLACKSHEAR M. BRYAN
U.S. Military Academy
Playing tackle at West Point helped me all through the service. It still does. The lessons I learned taught me to stand on my own feet and helped me out of many tight spots. Athletic training helped me climb the hills of Korea and save myself for the ordeal on the top.