They don't make local sportswriters -- or sports stories -- like they used to.

"Stimulated by the presence of several new candidates previously unable to turn out for daily practice, and a stepping up of the defensive workouts, the Bryan Field football team is pointing to their game with Texas A. and M. at College Station on Saturday, September 25th."

That story on the front page of the Sept. 24, 1943, edition of The Hearne Democrat went on to report that though the Bryan Field squad was "small in number," it was also "spirited and rugged."

Jimbo Fisher would have been proud of the Aggies performance that opened the '43 season. A&M routed Bryan Field 48-6.

In fact, Coach Homer Norton's Aggies built on that win to go undefeated heading into the year's regular-season finale against Texas.

The Aggies lost that game 27-13, then lost in the Orange Bowl to LSU 19-14, finishing 7-2-1 on the year.

Still, that was a remarkable achievement, almost on par with Texas A&M's national-championship season of 1939. Norton went into the '43 campaign having lost 77 of his 84 players to military service. Many of those on the squad he fielded had never played an organized game of football.

With an average age of just 17, the '43 Aggies were called the "Kiddie Korps."

In a 1971 Sports Illustrated article titled, "When Football Went to War," writer Charles Einstein -- no kin to the famed theoretical physicist, but half-brother to actor and comedian Albert Brooks, whose real name is, indeed, Albert Einstein -- illuminated the college football landscape during World War II.

"The wartime college game in America was played at two levels," wrote Einstein, "one a kind of enforced de-emphasis among the colleges and universities, and the other, far closer to the collegiate game as it had been known, among teams representing various Army, Navy and Marine installations."

A look at 1943's final Associated Press football poll is revealing.

Notre Dame won the national championship that year.

The Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks, representing the U.S. Navy's pre-flight school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, finished second with a 9-1 record.

Also ranked in the AP's season-ending top ten: Great Lakes Navy, Del Monte Pre-Flight and March Field.

The Bryan Field football program, coached by the base's physical training department head, Lieutenant Roy Johnson, was several notches below the elite service powerhouses.

The team's original '43 schedule included just five games: the matchup against Texas A&M, a home and away series against the Randolph Field Ramblers, an away contest at Blackland Army Flying School in Waco and a season ending matchup versus Southwestern University at Georgetown.

The game against Southwestern was scrapped after the lopsided loss to A&M. Southwestern was a football powerhouse at the time, winning its first five games in '43 to climb to No. 13 in the AP poll.

Instead, Bryan Field ended its year against Camp Hearne, beating the Warriors 6-0.

Throughout the game story in the Nov. 15, 1943, issue of The Bryan Daily Eagle, no mention is made of a nickname for the Bryan Field team.

However, kudos were given to the team's lineman Ralph O'Hair for his showing at end. The story reports that O'Hair "stopped several Hearne drives with his hard tackling, and grabbed several Bryan passes."

As a flight navigator, Lt. O'Hair also sat in the backseat behind base commander Joseph Duckworth on history's first intentional flight into a hurricane the summer before Bryan Field's '43 football season.

Unfortunately, no one thought to call the squad "The Hurricanes."

Bryan Field, in fact, fielded two football teams in 1943, thanks to segregation.

The 325th Aviation Squadron team from Bryan Field, comprised exclusively of African-American servicemen, played "home" games at Bryan's all-black Kemp High School.

Against Prairie View College in a home-and-home series on back-to-back Saturdays in November 1943, the 325th airmen lost twice. According to a story in The Bryan Daily Eagle, "the Prairie View eleven [was] largely composed of college stars now in the service and registered in the Special Training Unit at the college."

Football was, by no means, the only game at Bryan Field, nor at other military installations across the country. Sports boosted morale, fostered teamwork and instilled a competitive spirit.

Sports stories frequently rated front-page placement in The Panel, the Bryan Field base newspaper. In the Aug. 3, 1945, edition, a team photo of the Squadron B softball team proclaimed them to be "first half champions."

A month later, a Panel headline read, "Tennis Champ To Be Picked In Singles Tourney This Month." According to the story, "valuable prizes" were at stake, and "a limited number of rackets [were] available at the Physical Training office."

Pilots from several European countries trained at Bryan Air Force Base during the Korean War and afterward. So, it is not surprising the base fielded a soccer team.

Capt. Dionysius Roxs was liaison officer for jet pilot trainees from the Netherlands. Roxs was well-known in the Bryan community, popular for his civic- and garden-club talks.

It was his idea to start a Bryan Air Force Base soccer team in 1953.

"When I came to America, I didn't like football or baseball," Roxs told a reporter from The Bryan Daily Eagle, "because I didn't understand the games.

"Americans are the same about soccer," he added.

Hoping to infuse a love of soccer in locals, the former Dutch standout and his Bryan Air Force Base team competed in the Texas International Soccer League. Foes included Texas A&M, the University of Texas and Allen Academy, then a military school.

A drive around today's RELLIS Campus offers no indication of Roxs' old soccer pitch, but it does reveal the fence outline of a baseball diamond that dates back to both Bryan Army Air Field and Bryan Air Force Base.

Although the field is mostly grass now, the backstop and bench areas declare its original purpose.

A website called "Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice," pays tribute to the 1955 Bryan Air Force Base baseball team. The site is devoted to baseball players who made the "ultimate sacrifice" in service to country.

"On August 26, 1955, the Bryan Air Force Base baseball team was traveling by bus to a tournament at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, LA." the website reports. "About three miles from Cushing, TX, the bus blew a tire and plunged over a 30-foot embankment into a dry creek.

"The injured managed to crawl out windows or were helped out by rescuers."

Two enlisted men died in the accident: Airman First Class Lloyd Buresh, an infielder from Karlin, Missouri, and Airman First Class James Kirkpatrick of Buff City, Tennessee, driver of the bus.

Funeral services for the men were held at the chapel at Bryan Air Force Base.

Tim Gregg is a freelancer hired by A&M System Chancellor John Sharp to create RELLIS Recollections, a project to preserve the history of the RELLIS Campus site. He can be reached via email at

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