Veterans Day Hits Home for Retiring Osborne
Randy York's N-Sider
In Commemoration of the men of Nebraska who served and fell in the Nation's Wars. Inscription in SE corner of Memorial Stadium
Sunday is Veterans Day, a holiday that always has been meaningful for Tom Osborne, the Hall-of-Fame football coach who will retire Jan. 1, 2013, after more than five years as Nebraska's athletic director. Osborne served in the U.S. Army Reserves, and he can identify with any military family that experiences life without a loved one in the house. "Tom's dad (Charles) was gone five years during World War II," wife Nancy Osborne said Friday. "He knows what it's like not to have a dad in the house."
Fortunately, Tom's mother moved the family from Hastings to St. Paul, Neb., where his Uncle Virgil became a father figure that spurred Tom's interest in fishing and encouraged a talented little boy to succeed in every possible way until his dad returned from the war. "That's one of the biggest reasons Tom started TeamMates," Nancy said. "His uncle was his mentor, and he had a huge influence on Tom while his dad was gone."
Charles Osborne was 35 and Tom was 5 when his dad enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor was attacked. When his dad returned home five years later, Tom relished listening to his war stories and football stories. Even though he didn't know how he got along without his father, he realized later that his experience without his dad helped him relate to kids who'd grown up in family situations that were less than ideal.
The Osborne family was in Omaha Friday night at a major fund-raiser for TeamMates, an organization headed by executive director Suzanne Hince, Tom's and Nancy's daughter. The mission of TeamMates is "to positively impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential," which is exactly what happened to Osborne while his dad was fighting in World War II. In announcing his retirement, Osborne said he intends to devote time to help TeamMates increase its mentors from 6,000 to 10,000 by 2015, enabling it to become the leading school-based mentoring program in the United States.
Active Military Join Veterans in a Grand Salute
Nebraska has distributed 250 apron tickets to active military/veterans. Most will be used by recently returned Nebraska units from overseas. Color guards for the National Anthem and the band's pregame ceremonies will represent each branch of the military. The Cornhusker Marching Band will play all five service anthems (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard) as the Color Guard marches down the field.
Veterans inside Memorial Stadium will be asked to stand when their service hymn is played. Nebraska will honor nine veterans who honored Nebraska. They will be Honorary Gate Sentinels, representing each military branch and each war/conflict since WWII. Nebraska will honor five WWII veterans, one from each of the five military branches, plus four more sentinels, including two women who represented the Global War on Terror and two men who served in Korea and Vietnam, respectively.
Huskers.com has prepared personalized pages for all Honorary Gate Sentinels, and The N-Sider encourages all Big Red fans to check out the backgrounds and sacrifices from each honored sentinel. The nine honorees include:
U.S. Navy Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Edward Guthrie, WWII, Pacific, Omaha.
U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Kenneth Dahl, WWII, Pacific, Scribner, Neb.
U.S. Army Corporal Harold Heins, WWII, Europe, David City, Neb.
U.S. Army Air Corps Staff Sergeant Don Davis, WWII, Europe, Lincoln.
U.S. Coast Guard Aerographer's Mate 3rd Class Donald Schuster, WWII, North Atlantic, Phillips, Neb.
U.S. Navy Aviation Electrician Petty Officer 2nd Class Norman Elvig, Korea, Omaha.
U.S. Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman (Retired) James Thompson, Vietnam, McCook, Neb.
Nebraska Army National Guard Sergeant First Class Valerie (Deahn) Klinghorn, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Lincoln.
U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant Ashley Klipfel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Lincoln native now living in Lodgepole, Neb.
Each Sentinel Story Compelling in its Own Way
Each sentinel story is compelling in its own way, from the youngest veterans to the oldest, including Edward Guthrie, one of Nebraska's last living survivors of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. Nebraska will honor all veterans Saturday, as well as active military. HuskerVision also will use the big screens during the National Anthem to scroll the names of all soldiers with Nebraska ties who have lost their lives fighting the Global War on Terror since 9-11.
Throughout the game, HuskerVision will feature "shout outs" and pictures of Nebraska soldiers currently serving overseas. If weather permits, there will be a special flyover during the National Anthem that features military jumpers. Flag pins have been distributed to each veteran working the game for events/concessions, plus Athletic Department members who are military veterans - Osborne, Dan Bottcher, Don Bryant, Phil Hood, Butch Hug, Syed Hussain,Shot Kleen, Gregg Lingenfelder, George Scheel, George Sullivan and Jerry Zimmer. We aslo salute employee Patrick Kelly, a retired New York City police detective who worked full-time on 9-11-01.
In addition to saluting our own, Nebraska added a new military-related wrinkle to celebrate and honor Veterans Day. For this cross-divisional Big Ten game, 21 University of Nebraska ROTC cadets agreed to do push-ups in the Southeast corner of the field ... one push-up for each point scored immediately after the score, so here's hoping that Nebraska's offense is explosive, and the cadets end the day much more physically fit than they started it.
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Voices from Husker Nation
I enjoyed the article on Tom and the military. In 1963 and early 1964, Tom and I were weekend warriors in Training Company, 89th Inf. Div., U.S. Army Reserve. I still have a fatigue shirt with the rolling “W” shoulder patch. We did Army Summer Camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. That's when I learned the stories of his volunteering as a wide receiver coach for the Bobfather (Bob Devaney) and getting to eat at the Training Table because Devaney had no budget to pay him. I also learned how he became a wide receiver at San Francisco because Red Hickey told Tom that nobody was likely to play quarterback for the 49ers other than Y.A.Tittle or John Brodie. Tom said he didn't want to be a defensive back, so he opted for wide receiver. Ken Softley, NU '58, Topeka, Kansas