Skip to comments.Crimson Soldiers remembered on Veterans' Day (Washington State U)
Posted on 04/01/2013 12:41:31 PM PDT by robowombat
Crimson Soldiers remembered on Veterans' Day
By JOHN C. WITTER Managing Editor Emeritus Posted Nov 11, 2009
SPORTSWRITERS OFTEN DESCRIBE athletes with generous amounts of melodrama and grandeur, using (and overusing) terms like heroic to describe their feats. But when the big picture makes its way back into our consciousness -- say, when our nation goes to war -- we realize what an inadequate home a basketball court or football field is for a word like hero.
No, that word belongs at the frontlines and foxholes of foreign soils, with men and women much too far from home and family and far too close to their own mortality.
Hero is a word born not on the gridiron, but on battleships and battlefields or - - as in the case of former Cougar football player Jerry Sage - - behind the barbed wire of Nazi P.O.W. camps.
Sage, a Spokane native, starred as an end for Washington State in the late 30s, quickly earning a reputation as the consummate team player and a fierce gridiron gladiator.
In 1941, he volunteered for the newly formed Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.), the forerunner of the CIA. There, Sage learned the art of the shadow trade, and was dubbed The Dagger, for his skill at hand-to-hand combat. He first plied his new covert profession as a saboteur in North Africa, slowing down Nazi General Erwin Rommels infamous Afrika Corps.
But it was after being captured by the Nazis that Sage truly displayed his indomitable spirit, spending his entire two years as a P.O.W. planning and attempting escapes. Doing so came with a cost, as evidenced by his moniker, The Cooler King, given for his lengthy stays in solitary confinement following his many attempts at freedom. Yet his persistence paid off and he escaped for good in 1945.
Sages exploits have been recounted in numerous articles over the years, even immortalized on celluloid in the classic 1963 film The Great Escape. The films protagonist, portrayed by Steve McQueen, was based largely on Sage's exploits as a P.O.W.
In 1985, the retired Col. Sage penned his autobiography, a thrilling read titled Sage: Dagger of the O.S.S.
THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE Upon learning of his initial capture, Sages Cougar teammate, center and team Captain Chris Rumburg, wept for his good friend, fearing the inevitability of his execution once the Nazis discovered his O.S.S. ties. Thankfully, the Germans never learned they had a spy on their hands.
CHRIS RUMBURG Sage never had the opportunity to thank his buddy for the concern. In 1944, the transport ship carrying Rumburg sank in the English Channel. He would drown, but only after swimming others to the safety of lifeboats - - even giving up his own life vest --despite being severely wounded.
It wasnt the only loss that would hit especially close to home for Sage. His high school football coach at North Central in Spokane, Archie Buckley, was killed in action during the 1945 battle of Iwo Jima while aboard the USS Saratoga. Buckley had quarterbacked the 1929 Cougars to a 10-2 record and also starred on both the diamond and hardwood for Washington State.
However, Sage would suffer his greatest war-related heartbreak in 1968, when his son, Captain Terence F. Sage, was killed in Vietnam.
Buckleys gridiron teammate, end John Hurley, died in 1943 while leading his men to safety through an Italian minefield. A mainstay as an end for the Rose Bowl bound 1930 Cougs, Hurley was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery. Hed previously been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action during the Sicilian Campaign and his heroism is cited in Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyles 1944 book, Brave Men.
A NAME ON THE WALL
He - - like Terry Sage - - is just one of the 58,220 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. You can find his name on panel 23E, row 96. But like every other lost life, theres so much more to Don Steinbrunner than just a name on this wall of the fallen.
DON STEINBRUNNER Steinbrunner, a Wickersham native, was a star end for Washington State from 1950-52, earning first team All-West Coast and All-Conference honors following his junior season.
Football glory seamlessly continued with the gentle giant into the National Football League. The sixth-round draft pick of Cleveland in 1953, Steinbrunner saw considerable playing time as an offensive lineman for the Browns that year, including the NFL championship game (the Browns lost to Detroit, 17-16).
Following his rookie season, Steinbrunner, a ROTC enlistee while at Washington State, honored his two-year commitment to the Air Force. When it came time to decide which career path to take in 1955, his love of country won out over his love of the gridiron.
To him, football was all about sportsmanship and camaraderie, Steinbrunners son, David told Air Force News in 2001. Thats the same way he felt about the military and he loved the discipline and organization.
In 1966, Steinbrunner was called to serve in Vietnam. After being shot in the knee during an engagement, the Major - - a navigator on aerial missions - - couldve ended his tour of duty but felt his years of experience were too important to shelve stateside.
He was killed on July 10, 1967 when his C-123 Provider was shot down by enemy forces. He was 35 years old and left behind a wife and three children.
Bravery; Courage; Heroism: All nice, colorful highlight film prose we like to use to describe something that is likely nothing more than an admirable athletic feat. But these words are far too noble for a mere game.
No, the truly brave and courageous and heroic of this Country dont hear the applause and cheers of packed stadiums. Well never know most of their names, nor will we recognize their faces.
Some of these courageous sat in relative anonymity in the solitary confinement cells of German P.O.W. camps. Some of these brave were lost at Sicily or Iwo Jima or Korea or in a place called Vietnam.
And some of these selfless souls died today in Iraq.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Day One of the Iraqi War.
Cullum No. 24457 Jan 31, 1968 Died in Vietnam
Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY
Captain Terence Fairchild Sage was killed in action on the outskirts of Saigon on 31 January 1968 while serving as senior advisor to the 8th Battalion of the South Vietnamese Airborne Division. The citation accompanying his posthumous award of the Silver Star for his last action reads in part: On January 31, 1968 a well-equipped Viet Cong force entered and occupied the compound of the Vietnamese Joint General Staff Headquarters. Captain Sage accompanied a reaction force that had been given the mission of clearing the headquarters.
When the first attack was stopped, Captain Sage unhesitatingly volunteered to accompany a second attack on the enemy position. Mounting the top of an armored car, he rode into the area of fiercest fighting, fearlessly exposing himself to intense enemy fire as he directed air strikes and co-ordinated the offensive efforts of units deployed in the area. As the unit neared the Viet Cong strongpoint, overwhelming rocket, recoilless rifle and automatic weapons fire was directed at the armored cars. It was at this time that an exploding recoilless rifle round mortally wounded Captain Sage.
Those who knew TerTy Sage and were aware of his qualities of unselfishness, devotion to duty, and compassion for others would have expected him to give everything he had for the advancement of a noble and just cause, that of helping an oppressed people retain their freedom. It was fitting that his last deed on earth should be a testimonial to his love of his country and his fellow man.
Terry was bom in Tacoma, Washington, on 8 June 1942, the son of a career Army officer. Perhaps it was the challenge of the life of an Army brat the moving from post to post and the constant exposure to military lore and traditions that prompted him to seek a career as an Army officer. More than that, though, it was a need that he felt for leading others in the service of his country. After graduation from high school in Leavenworth, Kansas, Terry entered the United States Military Academy, one of the youngest men of the Class of 1963.
Terry was a dedicated cadet in all aspects of academy lifestudies, athletics, leadership, and extracurricular activities. Aside from the perceptiveness and keeness of mind and spirit which permitted him to excel, he was also blessed with an equanimity and sense of humor which helped to mitigate the austerity of cadet life for those around him and to give comfort and inspiration to those who faltered. It was these qualities which caused him to be chosen a Cadet Captain and Battalion Commander by his First Class year.
It was during an exchange weekend during his Second Class year that Terry met Grace John, a secretary to Congressman Joel Broy-hill of Virginia, on a visit to Annapolis. Mutual interest grew into love, and they were married on 20 July 1963 in Washington, D.C.
After his graduation and commissioning in the Infantry, Terry completed the Basic Infantry Officers Course, Airborne, and Ranger training. He then assumed command of an airborne unit of the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry, in Mainz, Germany. He and Grace returned to the United States in 1966, when he was assigned to command an Infantry Advanced Individual Training Company at Fort Polk, Lousiana. Their daughter Stephanie was bom there on 1 December 1966. After instruction in the Vietnamese language at Fort Bliss, he reported for duty in Vietnam in August 1967.
Terrys letters reflected the immense pride he had in his Vietnamese counterparts, and his devotion to the cause in which he so sincerely believed. He would tell of the hardships of combat and the suffering which is always wrought by war, but at the same time could relate humorous, everyday incidents which seemed to make life more bearable for him and his men. Teriys military skill plus his ability to communicate with his men and to understand their feelings were the bases of the mutual love and respect which helped to mold the 8th Battalion into a highly effective fighting forcc. It was fitting, therefore, that the 8th Battalion would be in Saigon on that fateful January day to help stem the murderous Tet offensiveand that Terry Sage would be up front, ready to risk his life so that others could live in freedom.
Because Terry is gone, there is a void in the lives of his family, his classmates, and his many friends which will never completely be filled. However, this void will at least be partially bridged by our pride, and by the wonderful memories we have of him. As a loving son and brother, husband and father, dedicated officer and loyal friend, he enriched the lives of everyone who knew him.
On 12 February 1968 Terry was brought back to West Point where he now rests along with other members of the Long Gray Line who unselfishly gave their lives in defense of freedom.
his brother, J.M. Sage Jr. ex Class of 1963
Freepers contemplate the lives and (for some) deaths of these men. Next contemplate the lives of the two men who now lead us and the man who is the Secretary of State. The testimony of the lives of these two sets of men is a more eloquent and damning commentary on this nation and its supposed citizens than any words that could be penned.
Sorry wrong thead
I was wondering.