1943 : University of Michigan Football Star Tom Harmon Almost Dies in the Skies Over Occupied China

October 30, 2018 all-day
Image result for tom harmon pilot photo

Tom Harmon grew up in Gary, Indiana, the youngest son of a steel mill security guard. He worked his way through Michigan in the late 1930s while building his outstanding football career.

By his junior season, in 1939, he appeared on the cover of Time, which reported he was a “gregarious, lantern-jawed six footer with a Tarzan physique” who runs “with the power of a wild buffalo and the cunning of a hounded fox.” He was touted by sportswriters as “the Michigan maestro,” “the wily Wolverine,” and “triple threat Tommy.” And the six-foot, 195-pound running and defensive back, passer, and kicker actually exceeded the hype.

But on this day, October 30, 1943, according to his famed commander, General Clair Chennault, “oblivious to his personal safety,” Harmon turned his P-38 directly into the half-dozen Japanese Zeros that had suddenly appeared above him. He raced into their midst, firing away.

Image result for tom harmon pilot photo

For the full story, see Fredric Alan Maxwell, “The Late Great 98 Tom Harmon on the field and at war”, Michigan Today, September 1, 2008.

Also see Elizabeth McGarr, “Conquering Hero : Humble and hardworking, Old 98 Tom Harmon was Michigan’s first transcendent football star”, SI Vault, August 20, 2008.

Tom Harmon wikipedia entry

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