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Remember selfless service for greater good
Travis Borchardt
Antelope Staff

American professional athletes are often looked upon as overpaid, underachieving, selfish people, but for a select few, this is definitely not the case.

Historically, some athletes gave up a very good paycheck to serve their country when we went to war. During WWII over 500 professional baseball players enlisted in the military.

These were not just ordinary players either. Some of those serving would eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among the few, Yogi Berra served in the Navy on a rocket launcher at Normandy Beach. Hoyt Wilhelm, the first closer to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, received a purple heart at the Battle of the Bulge. Umpire Nester Chylak also served as an Army Ranger where he received a Purple Heart and the Silver Star. Professional football players also signed up to serve: 638 in all served in WWII.

Some of our great American football players served inVietnam. Rocky Bleier served in the Infantry after being drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers. He was caught in a vicious firefight and suffered crippling injuries after being hit by enemy fire and shrapnel in his legs making it almost impossible to walk.

Not to be kept down, Bleier endured two painful years of rehabilitation and went on to enjoy a 12-year NFL career, leading the Steelers as a 1,000-yard rusher and capping his career off with four Super Bowl wins.
Of those who served overseas, sadly there are some who never returned. Bob Kalsu was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1968 and was a highly anticipated addition to the roster. He answered the call of duty to serve his country in Vietnam. First Lt. Kalsu led his men valiantly in the defense of Fire Base Ripcord where he was killed only hours after the birth of his son.

Most recently Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. Tillman gave up a multi-million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to serve.

It takes a special human being to lay down so much for the greater good. This is only a snapshot into what it means to be truly selfless. It was on this day, Feb. 17, 1943, that legendary baseball player Joe DiMaggio enlisted in the army at the height of his baseball career. Let this day serve as a reminder, not just of the athletes who have sacrificed for your freedom, but for all of our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters serving their country, protecting the very freedom we have the luxury of not having to think about on a daily basis. Remember them, pray for them, and thank a veteran today for all they have done for you.

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