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Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Oberlin, Ohio, one of five children (two boys and three girls) of James and Margaret Barnes. James, from North Carolina, was a chef at Oberlin College, and Margaret, from Kentucky, ran a family laundry. Soon after they married, Barnes's parents settled in Oberlin to raise their family because of the community's liberal atmosphere. They were aware of the role the town had played as a way station on the Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves in the nineteenth century. Barnes received the bulk of his education in Oberlin. He graduated from high school there in 1932 and was elected to the National Honor Society. In 1936 he graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor s degree in Physical Education He was an outstanding athlete who played end on the college s football team and starred on the track team He established a ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

the son of Arthur and Mamie Bradley; his father worked as a barber for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Bradley, who grew up in the Chicago south side neighborhood of Woodlawn, attended Englewood High School. As a guard on the football team, he earned all-state honors. After graduating high school, Bradley entered the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. He played guard on the Hawkeyes’ football team from 1926 to 1928. Bradley, who became the second African American to play football at Iowa after Duke Slater, left the university before graduation, having received an offer to work as a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. His, as well as Slater’s, athletic participation at Iowa, established the institution as a “safe haven” for black athletes.

Bradley s football skills caught the attention of Slater who was playing professional football for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football ...

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John Hanners

football player, social activist, author, singer-actor, and ordained minister, was born Roosevelt Grier on a farm in Cuthbert, Georgia, the seventh of Joseph and Ruth Grier's eleven children. At age thirteen he moved with his family to Roselle, New Jersey. Offered an athletic scholarship to Penn State University, he enrolled in 1950 and studied psychology, music, and education. His college athletic career was exceptional. Not only did he receive first-team All-American football honors in 1955, but he also set an Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletics of America shot-put record (fifty-eight feet) in track and field.

In 1965 Grier signed with the National Football League's New York Giants for a $500 bonus and a yearly salary of $6,500. During a long career that lasted from 1955 through 1968 Grier was a dominant defensive tackle in an era known for excellent defensive players His size ...

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Michael C. Miller

Hall of Fame football player, was born in Austin, Texas, to Johnnie Mae King, a prostitute, and her pimp, known only as “Texas Slim.” King abandoned her baby in a garbage dumpster when he was three months old, and Ella Lane, a widow, discovered and adopted him, naming him Richard. He attended Anderson High School, playing football and basketball and running track. Anderson won the state title in 1944 in the Prairie View Interscholastic League, a league for black high schools in Texas.

After high school, Lane moved to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to live with his birth mother, who had straightened out her life. Though the town was predominantly white, Lane remembered it as open and friendly to him. In 1947 he signed a professional baseball contract with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League and was assigned to their farm team the Omaha Knights ...

Article

football player, was born in Detroit, Michigan. The names of his parents are unknown. He never knew his father, who reportedly died in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp when Gene was very young; his mother was stabbed to death by a male acquaintance while she waited for a bus in Detroit in 1942 Raised by his maternal grandfather Lipscomb recalled that his grandfather did the best he knew how But for some reason it was always hard for us to talk together Instead of telling me what I was doing wrong and how to correct it my grandfather would holler and whip me As a youth Gene held a variety of odd jobs to support himself including a midnight to eight shift at a steel mill in Detroit which he worked before attending classes at Miller High School He quit school at age sixteen and joined the U ...

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Paul Stillwell

naval officer, was born in Tobacco Port, Tennessee, the son of Charles, a tobacco farmer, and Carrie Martin; he had two sisters and one brother. For the first few years of his life, Martin lived on a farm in Tennessee, near the Cumberland River. When Martin was about five or six years old, his father died. Because she was unable to keep up the farm, his mother moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where she became a seamstress. Graham Martin, by then seven or eight, went with his mother, while his siblings remained in Tennessee. He attended segregated public schools and had to deal with the Jim Crow practices of his new home city. For instance, blacks had to sit in the balconies of movie theaters, and the sports teams on which Martin played were not allowed to compete against teams from local all-white schools.

As he recalled in ...

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Pamela S. Rivers

professional football player, was born Marion Motley in Leesburg, Georgia, to Shakeful and Blanche (Jones) Motley whose occupations are unknown. In 1924 Motley's family moved to Canton, Ohio, where his father worked as a foundry molder. Little else is known about Marion's background or life until he gained notice as a football player at Canton McKinley High School.

Motley was a standout, a three-sport star whose size advantage and dominance as a fullback helped usher in a new era of football. In 1937 he scored over sixty points only to best himself the following year with 113 points, which was unprecedented for a high school player. He earned All-Ohio honors and ranked eighth in all time McKinley rushers. Years later, in 1968, he would be enshrined into the school's Hall of Fame.

After graduating from high school in 1939 Marion went to South Carolina State and was ...

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Michael Adams

professional football player, was born Fletcher Joseph Perry in Stephens, Arkansas, the son of Fletcher Perry and Laura Wheeler Perry, whose occupations are unknown. Perry grew up in Los Angeles, graduating in 1944 from Jordan High School, where he starred in football, baseball, basketball, and track and field. He was a star running back during 1944–1945 at Compton Junior College, scoring twenty-two touchdowns in his first season.

After college Perry joined the U.S. Navy and played for the Alameda Naval Air Station football team in 1947. The San Francisco 49ers tackle John Woudenberg saw Perry play and told 49ers owner Anthony J. Morabito and coach Lawrence T. “Buck” Shaw about the six-foot, two-hundred-pound running back. Perry reportedly turned down offers from fourteen colleges to sign a contract with the 49ers.

The 49ers began playing in 1946 during the initial season of the All America Football Conference ...

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Jason Philip Miller

athlete, was born Wilmeth Webb in Washington, DC, the son of Elias, a pharmacist, and Pauline Miner. In 1925 Elias died of stroke, and Pauline subsequently remarried. Her new husband was Samuel Sidat-Singh, a medical doctor of West Indian descent. He adopted Wilmeth and moved the family to Harlem, New York, where Wilmeth was raised and attended school. Even as a young man, Wilmeth showed great promise as an athlete. By the time he was attending high school at New York's DeWitt Clinton, he was a basketball star. In 1934 he led his team to a New York Public High School Athletic League championship. He was offered a basketball scholarship to Syracuse University, to which he matriculated in 1935. He was also recruited by the school's football coach, and soon he was playing on the gridiron as well as the hardwood.

College sports at the ...

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James I. Deutsch

film actor and athlete, was born Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode in Los Angeles, the son of Baylous Strode, a brick mason whose mother was a Blackfoot Indian, and Rosa Norris Strode, whose ancestors included Cherokees. Because of his imposing size—6 feet 4 inches and 215 pounds at his peak—and his physical strength and coordination, Strode first achieved renown as an athlete. At Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, he earned honors in both football and track and field (shot put, high jump, high and low hurdles), which resulted in an athletic scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles. However Strode's scholastic credentials were insufficient, so he first had to prove himself academically. Over the next two years he took special classes, while also training for the Decathlon event at the 1936 Olympic Games though he was not selected for the team He finally ...

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John M. Carroll

football player and coach, was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the son of Elzie Tunnell and Catherine Adams. Raised by his mother, a housekeeper, he was a star athlete in basketball and football at Radnor (Pennsylvania) High School. Upon graduating from high school in 1942, he attended the University of Toledo. In 1943 Tunnell played on the Toledo basketball team that advanced to the finals of the National Invitation Tournament in New York City before losing to St. John's University. During his single varsity football season at Toledo, Tunnell suffered a broken neck. After a period of recovery he joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1944. In 1946 following his release from the service he enrolled at the University of Iowa Playing in both offensive and defensive backfields Tunnell had a successful season with the Hawkeyes but was forced to sit out his senior year ...