Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

In honor of Veteran's Day (and Jeff's and James's birthdays), check out the the great write-up of Notre Dame's connections with the U.S. armed forces at the blue gray sky blog.

Included is the account of Mario "Motts" Tonelli, the 1939 Notre Dame grad and football star who was part of the infamous Bataan Death March:

On the first day of the seven-day 70-mile death march in April 1942, Japanese soldiers swept up and down the ranks, confiscating pens, jewelry or other personal possessions from the lines of struggling U.S. prisoners. One captor pointed with his bayonet at the ring on Tonelli's finger. "Give it to him, Motts. Or he'll kill you," whispered one of Tonelli's friends. Tonelli handed over the ring.

Moments later, a Japanese officer confronted Tonelli. In perfect English, he asked, "Did one of my soldiers take this from you?" The officer pulled the ring from his pocket. "I went to the University of Southern California," the officer said. "I graduated the same year you did. In fact, I saw the game when you made that long run that beat us. You were a hell of a player." "He gave me my ring back and wished me good luck," Tonelli recalled many years later.

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