Monday, April 27, 2009

When MI played the University of Alabama in football!

In the fall of 1943 – the height of World War II – neither Marion Institute or the University of Alabama fielded varsity football teams. Both institutions had club teams, the Cadets of MMI actually being the best of the school’s intramural champions, “D” Company, plus the top players from the other companies. The Alabama Informals, under Coach Mitchell Olenski, were not sanctioned by the University, but they were allowed to use school equipment and to have access to the school’s medical supplies. The 1943 season is listed as “unrated” for Alabama.

The 1943 Marion Institute football team, The Cadets. (Credit: Jimmy Scruggs, MMI HS 1944)

It appears that the Alabama Informals played three games during the 1943 football season. They were crushed by Howard College of Birmingham (Samford University) 42-6 in a charity game played in Tuscaloosa which drew 7,000 people to Denny Stadium. The other two games were played against the Cadets of Marion [Military] Institute, coached by “Bull” Spicer!

In the first game, played at the Perry County High School stadium, the Informals traveled to Marion where they defeated the Cadets 31-12 on Friday evening, November 12th . The Cadets played the Informals tough the first half.

The next week, the Cadets went to Tuscaloosa on the school’s rickety bus to play the Informals in a 3PM game in Denny Stadium on November 20th. This time, MMI fielded a better team and made a game of it; MMI scored two quick touchdowns, missing an extra point, and led the Informals early, 13-0. The Informals bounced back, and the score was 13-12 at the half. The Informals took control during the second half, defeating the Cadets 19-13.

Running back Jimmy Scruggs, H 1944, HSD, a current member of the MMI Board, was one of the star players for the Cadets, being mentioned twice in the article about the Denny Stadium game in The Tuscaloosa News for November 21, 1943. Jimmy remembers being knocked out “two or three times” during the game (“We didn’t know what a concussion was!”). The last time, flat on his back, he was looking up at his father who had run out on the field! Jimmy Scruggs also remembered that it wasn’t cold for late November, and that a couple of thousand people had attended the game.

A MMI high school student, Jimmy was in “D” Company, the champions of MMI’s intramural football. He graduated in December 1943, and, in January, 1944, was on his way to the Navy’s V-12 Program, an early commissioning program for Navy ensigns. Jimmy Scruggs later graduated from Auburn University and enjoyed a highly successful career as a pharmacist.

Another high school player for MMI was Robert L. “Bob” Harrington ‘45, the famed “Chaplain of Bourbon Street.” The Sweetwater, Alabama, native would attend the University of Alabama on a football scholarship.

The Rev. Robert L. “Bob” Harrington, MMI HS 1945, the “Chaplain of Bourbon Street.” (Credit: Bob Harrington, “Chaplain of Bourbon Street”)

Finally, the proceeds from the two games were used to pay the traveling expenses for both the Alabama Informals and the Cadets of Marion Institute.

Special thanks to Jimmy Scruggs ’44 for everything!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

General Bruce K. Holloway '33, USAF

The Service Academy Program (SAP) at Marion Military Institute is named for the late General Bruce Keener Holloway ’33, USAF, former head of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), and commander of the U. S. Air Forces in Europe.

General Bruce Keener Holloway ’33, USAF. (Credit: Official U. S. Air Force photograph)

LTC Gerry Lewis, Director of the Service Academy Program (SAP), and Faculty Advisor, Air Force Academy Preparation Cadets, at Marion Military Institute. (Credit: Marion Military Institute)

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, General Bruce K. Holloway completed two years in engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He attended MMI in 1932-33 as one of 190 members of the Corps of Cadets. Entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, Holloway graduated in the Class of 1937 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. He received his pilot wings in 1938 at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, and then spent two years with the Sixth Pursuit Squadron and the 18th Pursuit Group in Hawaii. Holloway then pursued postgraduate work in aeronautical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

Once the United States entered World War II, Bruce Holloway was sent to Chungking, China, when he joined Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group – the famed “Flying Tigers.” Later activated as the Army Air Force’s 23rd Fighter Group, Holloway rose to command that unit after earning his status as a fighter ace, shooting down some 13 Japanese planes and becoming a national hero in China. Considered one of air power’s finest tacticians, he obtained a 10:1 victory ratio over the Japanese.

In 1946, Holloway commanded the Air Force’s first jet-equipped fighter group, pioneering jet air operational tactics. Following graduation from the National War College in 1951, Holloway quickly rose through key staff assignments in both the operations and development fields at Headquarters, U. S. Air Force, later directing operational requirements.

Bruce Holloway served as deputy commander of the 9th and 12th Air Forces (Tactical Air Command) for four years, and was named deputy commander of the U.S. Strike Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in 1961. As part of that assignment, he later served as deputy commander in chief of the Middle East/Southern Asia and Africa South of the Sahara Command.

Emblem of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), 1946 – 1992. (Credit: U.S. Air Force)

General Holloway took command of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe in July, 1965, serving in that capacity until August 1, 1966, when he was appointed vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.

General Bruce K. Holloway ‘33 retired from the Air Force in 1972, having served since 1937. He was an Associate Administrator for NASA in 1973-74, and served as president of the U.S. Strategic Institute in 1981. The General died at the age of 87 in Orlando, Florida, on September 30, 1999.

His military decorations included, among others, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal.

Another image of General Bruce K. Holloway ’33, USAF. (Credit: Official U.S. Air Force photograph)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This and That

This “quarantine letter,” dated September 2, 1905, is an incredible read! With “fever” in Louisiana and Mississippi, and with those two areas locked down under quarantine, MMI released this appeal for college students in those states to come study at the Institute in Alabama. However, these students would first need to gather at the Piedmont Hotel in Atlanta (“The Marion Military Institute Headquarters”) where COL James T. Murfee, the “Superintendent,” would greet them, and provide them with room and board at the hotel while observing a seven- day observation period required under quarantine law. However, the students would be matriculated and assigned classes, and educational tours would be given in Atlanta (presumably, for only those seemingly uninfected) until the seven-day period expired. Then, they would be taken to MMI and processed as students. The faculty would work to bring these students up to speed so that nothing would have been missed since the Institute’s official September 7th opening for the school year. (Credit: MMI Archives)

The lengths MMI went to recruit students in the past!

These two color images are from a feature article in The Birmingham News, dated February 6, 1972. The article centers on Betty M. Moss, a MMI high school senior, who reportedly became the first female member of The Swamp Foxes, MMI’s elite Ranger unit (the 1972 MMI yearbook depicts her as the unit’s “Sponsor”). However, the News article has her participating in much of the Swamp Fox training schedule, reporting that she was an accepted and highly-popular member of the unit who usually “stole the show” during Swamp Fox demonstrations! (Credit: The Birmingham News; Frank Sikora, author; Robert Adams, photographer)

Betty M. Moss, now Ms. Betty M. McAuliffe, is a “Homemaker” who lives in Richmond, Virginia.