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A Special Treat

Howard Hewitt – Football is often described as the world of machismo. It filters down from the NFL and the college level to high school and even pee wee ball.

That’s why it was such fun Friday morning to see members of the Wabash College football team react much like little boys in the candy shop at the Union Federal Football Center – practice facility for the Indianapolis Colts.

Pete Metzelaars ’82 arranged to have the Little Giants visit on their way to Saturday’s football game at Wooster, Ohio. The Wabash men, who were unaware of the planned visit, were led into the indoor practice field where they watched All-Pro Dwight Freeney and his defensive line mates work out near the end of practice.

When the few remaining Colts cleared the field, Metzelaars gave the go-ahead for the Wabash guys to check it out. They felt the artificial turf, tossed the football around, and took lots of photos with camera phones.

And, there was more than a few "wows" and other superlatives to describe the experience.

While waiting to load the bus to head on to Ohio, the players saw the large SUVs, Mercedes, and even a Bentley belonging to Colts players.

For a short while the machismo and posturing went out the window – they were boys. And boy, did they love the experience. The only thing better was watching them enjoy it!

Carrying a father’s dying words

Steve Charles—Mike McCoy ’91 felt honored when World War II veteran Hobert Winebrenner trusted him to co-write the memoir of the 82-year-old’s experiences with the 90th Infantry Division at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and the final Allied push into Nazi Germany.

"Hobert spoke of his desire to leave something behind for his children, grandchildren, and those yet to come—not so much about him, but about the men he served with: ‘the finest men in the world,’ as he often called them," McCoy writes in the introduction to Bootprints: An Infantryman’s Walk Through World War II. "How different would my life be had men like Hobert refused to stand up and fight? The very least I could do was to bring another of their stories to light."

"So began our two years of kitchen table summits, sorting through Hobert’s war step by step, bullet by bullet," McCoy recalls. "Hour upon hour I listened while Hobert laughed, cried, and prayed."

The resulting book captures "the little things that occur in battle that make all the difference" writes Military History Online’s Brian Williams. "Nothing can replace actual eyewitness accounts, and Winebrenner [and McCoy] bring the reader back in time to a place many vets will not easily go, By doing so, they ensure that the memory and sacrifice of those Winebrenner served and fought with are not forgotten."

But McCoy went a step further.

In tracking down one of Winebrenner’s Army buddies, the writer was able to bring a dying father’s words to a most grateful son.

John Marsh was Winebrenner’s Captain during the Normandy invasion. On the morning of July 10, 1944, Marsh received a letter from his wife announcing the birth of their first and only son. Later that day as he was leading his command team in the savage battle at Foret de Mont Castre, Marsh was hit with shrapnel from a German mortar round. Before he died, he whispered memorable final words to his wounded First Sergeant Paul Inman in a tone that Inman recalled as "defiant glory."

After the war, Inman searched for Marsh’s widow and son, hoping to deliver his Captain’s message, but he was unable to locate them. When Inman died in 2000, his sons continued their father’s mission.

While researching Bootprints in 2004, Mike McCoy located Marsh’s son, who had just been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. McCoy arranged a phone call between Marsh and the Inmans and an ailing son finally heard his father’s words:

"They may get me, but they won’t get my boy."

"It was like hearing words from beyond, reaching out for me," Marsh told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"Finally, his father is coming alive for him," Marsh’s wife, Susan, said.

Mike McCoy won’t get famous or wealthy off this self-published book. Bootprints is the only title on McCoy’s Camp Comamajo Press’s list, and the company runs out of a Post Office Box in his hometown of Albion, Indiana. Mike simply hoped to make a payment on "debt we can’t repay, for a selfless sacrifice that won freedom for me."

But as one who also has the honor of listening to others and telling their stories, I can’t imagine a deeper reward than what Mike felt when John Marsh, Jr. heard his father’s words for the first time.

Beautiful work, Mike.

Photo above right: Captain John Marsh, Sr., 1942.

Find out more about Bootprints at http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/review/bootprints.aspx

Read more about the John Marsh story at The Billings Gazette

A Model Teacher

Jim Amidon — Jeremy Robinson returned to Wabash Monday to recruit for the Teach for American program, which he joined after graduation in 2004. We had a few minutes to chat late in the day and it was a real treat to listen as he described his work at Harper High School on Chicago’s southwest side.

And what a difference a year makes. "Last year was all about survival," he told us. "This year is about becoming the best teacher I can be; this year is about being professional in everything I do."

He shows wisdom far beyond his 24 years. His year-plus in one of Chicago’s worst public schools has shown him plenty; he sees firsthand the inequity in public education and hopes that he and Teach for America can do something about it. "We need to provide more incentives so that teaching is a job people want to do; if we paid teachers what we pay doctors we could certainly have a better talent pool," he says.

Teach for America had a nine percent acceptance rate into the program when Jeremy applied; this year it was 17 percent, making it every bit as competitive as most graduate and professional schools.

He loves teaching this year. He sees himself as the CEO of his classroom, making decisions, focusing conversations. "This year I have ‘street cred’ and I know what I’m doing."

Jeremy teaches ninth graders in 100-minute blocks. He says Harper has only three periods in a day to eliminate passing time, which reduces fights, skipped classes, and other behavioral problems. "I just want to work with them to make them the best writers I can," he says.

And he always wears a tie: "The tie is about professionalism," he told us. "I just feel more professional and know I’m more focused when I have the tie on.

"And, it serves as a barrier between me and my students. Yes, they are young and I am young, but this tie indicates that I’m in charge."

Jeremy will be featured in the December issue of Wabash Magazine, themed "Callings."

An Uncanny Knack

Jim Amidon — Remember Ryan Smith ’03 — a tall, skinny drink of water who majored in poli-sci and wrote for The Bachelor? The guy has an uncanny knack for landing in the right places at the right time. (And I’m sure hard work has a lot to do with it.)

When he did a White House summer internship, he was one of the very few interns who got to work in the West Wing.

When he said he wanted to go to journalism school, I thought, "no way." He got into Columbia and finished his master’s degree right on time.

On election night 2004, he spent the evening as the youngest person in the control room of CBS’s news division watching the results come in.

He wrote me Friday saying to tune in to 48 Hours, the CBS news program that covers a single story for a full hour. Why? Saturday’s program, "Strange Truth: A Murder Mystery," was pitched to producers by our very own Ryan Smith.

Officially, he’s in research and story development, which means "I do front-end work for stories—I find and research stories; pitch them; travel to meet people involved; and convince them to come on television. It’s a great job, especially for someone my age who can still live out of a suitcase."

Smith began with 48 Hours in February; it’s taken the better part of six months to get his story on the air. Smith is pleased, though; he has three other stories in production.

Contact Ryan Smith at: smithr@cbsnews.com

Howard Hewitt – Greg Mahoney ’06 sees responsibility as a triangle. The triangle’s three sides are self, friends and family. 

Mahoney weaved his love of racing into his Thursday Chapel Talk about responsibility. The Granger, Ind., native, and religion major and Student Senate president, told a good-sized chapel turnout that responsibility is all about decisions.

“It’s about doing what you like when you like,” he said. “We can choose to do nothing at Wabash and just study. Or, like me and my buddies, we can work real hard so we can play hard.”

Responsibility for one’s self is much like a race car, Mahoney offered. “In order to go fast you have to start slow. If you don’t know what you’re going to do in life slow down and look at yourself. What are your strengths, interests?”

Responsibility to friends is dropping whatever you’re doing to help a buddy out. Mahoney described responsibility to family as the most important because family will give up even more than friends to support you.

Mahoney’s mixture of humor and advice seemed to be a big hit with Wabash men.

Guests at Saturday’s Football Game

Jim Amidon — Saturday should be business as usual at Wabash: the football and soccer teams are home and students will be entertained by the national act, The Roots, on Saturday night.

We’ll have some special guests around this weekend, too. First, alumni soccer players return to campus for the alumni game at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The Faith Alliance, Montgomery County’s breast cancer resource organization, will be set up inside Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Representatives will be handing out information on breast cancer and resources available to breast cancer victims.

And at halftime of the football game, the three finalists in all age categories will compete for county championships in the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition.

Tailgating starts early — don’t be late.

The right place, the right time

Steve Charles — JP Morgan Chase investment banker Bill Kennedy ’83 had the rapt attention of students at his table when host Lu Hamilton ’76 interrupted the conversation to make some necessary announcements at Monday night’s alumni-student gathering.

I don’t know what Bill had been discussing, but as soon as Lu finished his announcements, Kennedy turned back to the students and said, "Okay, I’d like to finish what we were talking about." The students leaned forward to listen, and one added an affirming, "Yeah." Looking around the room, I saw similar scenes at the five other tables.

It was the sort of engagement our students crave as they strive to discern their calling—connections with those who know how to leverage the advantages of a Wabash liberal arts education in the working world and have found a vocation that brings purpose to their lives. That’s what these Industry Focus Nights provide. Monday night it was healthcare, law, and investment. There’ll be other nights for other vocational paths. I told Lu that I wished we could provide an evening like this for every calling our students are interested in.

Later that evening I was transcribing my interview with our new Career Services Director, Scott Crawford: "People who find their calling are lucky, but they create their own luck," Scott said. "They position themselves to be in the right place for when that right time occurs. The key for our students is to be active, to get a variety of experiences, and, as their partners in this search, we want to provide as many of those experiences as possible.

"At a school like this, and with the alumni support we have, so much learning is possible," Scott said. "But you have to pay attention and be ready to†go to that right place at the right time."

For 30-plus students with that initiative, the right time was last night, and the right place was Detchon Hall.

Thanks to Lu Hamilton, Terry Hamilton ’89, Diane Iseminger, Dave Herzog ’77, Matt Price ’90, Joel Tragesser ’94, Jason Cantrell ’93, Lee Hargitt ’88, and Bill Kennedy ’83 for making it happen.

Wabash Football & Fun

Howard Hewitt — For anyone who has never gone on the road with the Little Giant football team, you’ve missed out. Add it to your fall list of things to do!

Approximately 400 Wabash College fans filed into Ohio Wesleyan University’s Selby Stadium Saturday afternoon. Even two pledge classes joined the fun. The crowd looked a little lost in the huge, old stadium but they were quite vocal in supporting the Little Giants.

OWU is located at Delaware, Ohio, – perhaps best known as birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president – or about a half hour north of Columbus. The OWU campus has an elongated layout in the beautiful small town. A mall runs down the middle of campus giving it a feeling of community even though it sits right downtown.

A big part of any Wabash road trip experience is the tailgate parties before the game. Just look for the red Wabash flags in a nearby parking lot for good food and friends.

We got to Delaware a bit later than planned Saturday so I wasn’t able to explore campus as I would have liked. We’ll be going to Wooster and Allegheny yet this fall on overnight trips. That will allow me to include a few photos of campus to give fans a feel for these schools we often talk about but few will ever see.

When you travel with the Little Giants you eat well, enjoy great company and meet new people. As Brent Harris and I found out on our way to the Wabash tailgate area we found a group of Ohio-based Wabash fans. Bill Catus ’77†and friends had set up grills and fun near the stadium. Catus leads the Columbus Association of Wabash men.

Topping†off the day was Wabash’s dominating performance and a big 29-7 win.†The football team travels to Wooster Oct. 15 and the longest trip of the year, Oct. 29, to Allegheny, Pa. Oh, then there is that short trip down the road Nov. 12 to reclaim the Bell!

Master of the universes

Steve Charles - More than a month before his novel Olympos made the New York Times extended bestseller list, Dan Simmons ’70 presented the first public reading from the book to a Wabash audience packed into a Baxter Hall classroom during last summer’s Big Bash.

Now Amazon.com is featuring on its web site an interview with Simmons titled "Master of the Universes." Here’s the introduction:

"Changing genres as easily as others change clothes, Dan Simmons has won major awards with his novels, including the World Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Hugo Award. Ilium, the first book in the science fiction diptych completed by Olympos, was the Amazon.com top science fiction pick of 2003. He’s written horror, mystery, historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

"How does he do it? With pleasure…"

You can find the interview at http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/569449/104-5681203-7933510

Dan is best known for his fiction, but I always enjoy and learn from his essays. He has written twice for Wabash Magazine (one of the most rewarding interviews I’ve ever done was for our feature about Dan in the Spring 1998 edition of WM), and you can read less formal but equally fascinating messages at his web site: www.dansimmons.com

The site also includes a revealing look by Dan’s longtime agent, Richard Curtis, about the sea changes occurring in book publishing.

You’ll also read that both Ilium and Olympos have been optioned by Digital Doman and Barnet Bain Films (producers of the Robin Williams/Cuba Gooding Jr. film What Dreams May Come). Dan is writing the screenplay.

But as Dan cautions every time his fans get excited about one of his books hitting the big screen, there are many obstacles to overcome. "I won’t believe it’s real until I’m sitting in the theater eating popcorn and watching it on the screen," Dan says.

At breakfast in Crawfordsville in June, Dan told me about his new book, The Terror, which he calls "a tale of arctic survival and psychological terror based on actual historical accounts."

As Dan enthusiastically recounted details from his research for the book, I couldn’t help but think of the conversation Dan had earlier that weekend with Wabash student Aaron Nicely, who was on campus writing fiction of his own thanks to an internship Dan funds. Dan talked with Aaron about the importance of research in fiction, and his words took root; when I caught up with Aaron a couple weeks ago, he said that doing the research for the novella he’d completed may have been the most enjoyable part of the process.

You can read about Aaron’s work at www.wabash.edu/news/displaystory.cfm?news_ID=2772

A journalist living humanely

Steve Charles—TIME magazine Miami Bureau Chief Tim Padgett ’84 travels to New York next month to receive the Cabot Prize from Columbia University for his outstanding reporting on Latin America.

But I’ve learned much and been moved by his recent coverage of the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast.

Some of his best work is found at TIME Online. His "Flying with a New Orleans Rescue Crew" snatches you up for a ride on a CH-53 helicopter called "Voodoo Child" as it takes to a sky "frenetically dotted with all types and sizes of choppers, bobbing and weaving like bumblebees in a barely controlled chaos amidst the smoke of fires burning along the Mississippi River below."

Padgett’s reporting illuminates challenges I’d never heard about in other coverage, such as the difficulty of providing air traffic control during the "saturation rescue scene" over New Orleans, and then takes you face to face with physically and mentally disabled survivors the crew plucks from the floodwaters. The final paragraph is as carefully observed as the best fiction, but this is reality at its most desperate. Padgett’s words burn these images on the brain and inspires compassion better than any photograph or video coverage I’ve seen.

You can read the article at:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1101340,00.html

And Padgett’s article, "The Complicated Mayor of New Orleans" asks if Ray Nagin is the right man to rebuild the Crescent City. That one’s at:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1109261,00.html