Inside this Week’s SI: War and Roses – How the 1942 Rose Bowl Rallied a Rattled CountryPosted: August 14, 2013
The 1942 Rose Bowl rallied a rattled country and brought together men who soon would become brothers on far-flung battlefields, writes Brian Curtis in this week’s SI. The game, in which Oregon State upset a favored Duke team 20—16, was initially canceled in the aftermath of the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese. Military officials were concerned about holding such a large public event on the West Coast, but thanks to legendary Duke coach Wallace Wade, who previously won three national titles at Alabama, the game was moved to Duke Stadium in Durham, N.C.
“The detested UNC student body even sent Duke a good luck scroll signed by more than 15,000 Tar Heels—a symbol of the camaraderie that gripped the nation,” writes Curtis. “The city of Durham, no friend of Duke’s at the time, rolled out the welcome mat for the world and for Oregon State.” (PAGE 119)
The game sold out in 48 hours, and Oregon State coach Lon Stiner brought 31 players (plus a traveling party of 50) on the 3,741 mile journey to Durham by train. However, Jack Yoshihara, a reserve defensive back from Portland who was born in Japan, was noy allowed to join the team. Curtis writes, “Days after Pearl Harbor, as Stiner put his team through a wet, grueling practice, two FBI agents in suits approached him on the field. Minutes later Stiner told Yoshihara that he would not be allowed to travel with the team: By executive order no Japanese-Americans were permitted to go more than 35 miles from their homes.” (PAGE 120)
Curtis takes readers through the mud-soaked game in which the Beavers upset Duke. Many of the players and coach Wade would later fight together in World War II, and some lost their lives. “I go into the Air Service January 24th, and if I get killed, I can take it now and die happy—that’s how you feel when you win a Rose Bowl football game,” said Martin Chaves, the winning captain. Wade, who was 49, reenlisted shortly after the Rose Bowl loss. “My boys were going in, and I felt like we should stay together as a team,” he told his biographer, Lewis Bowling. “We were just participating in a different battle.” (PAGE 122)
Wade, who won a Bronze Star by war’s end, found himself shivering in a fox hole in a forest while crossing from France to Belgium in December 1944. Fresher troops came in to help, and one took pity on Wade, giving him a coat and warm coffee. Curtis writes, “It’s unknown who recognized whom, but the soldier was Stan Czech, a former Oregon State right tackle. Three years after they faced each other in the Rose Bowl, the coach and the player were now on the same team.” (PAGE 123)
Curtis also recounts the encounter between former Duke quarterback Charles Haynes Jr. and Oregon State guard Frank Parker. After being shot in the chest in the fall of 1944, Haynes thought he was going to die as he lay in the mountains along Italy’s Arno River for 17 hours. One of the rescuers was Frank Parker, who had received news that his friend and former football foe was down. Curtis writes, “With another soldier helping, Parker hoisted the blood-soaked Haynes onto his back and carried him down the hill to a small farmhouse, where Haynes received life-saving medical treatment.” (PAGE 123)