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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: 6 Former UK Players Have Given Ultimate Sacrifice

Thanks to Jon Scott’s amazing website, you can learn about the former UK basketball players who have served in the military (155 in total), with Carlos Toomer being the last, serving in Air Force in the 1990’s.  But on the Memorial Day, where we honor those who have given their life in military service, we should give special attention to the 6 former UK basketball players who have died in combat.  Five of those died in World War 2 and one in World War 1.  Here are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve of honor today (and every day):

Howard Kline (played on the UK teams in 1915 and 1917)
-Aviator, died in France in 1918
-was first Kentuckian aviator to ever be killed in action

James King (played at UK 1939-42)
-2-time All-SEC 2nd team
-shot down over Germany in February 1944

James Goforth (played at UK 1934-37)
-Marines, Company Leader
-Died in combat in Saipan in June 1944

Melvin Brewer (played at UK 1940-43)
-Army, Received Advanced Military training at UK
-died in France in August 1944

Kenneth England (played at UK 1940-42)
-Army, Commanded a Mountain Division
-Took Mt. Belvedere from Nazis
-Killed in Italy in April 1945
-Athletic Field in Italy is named after England

Walter Johnson (played at UK 1943-44)
-Navy, served on cruiser Indianapolis
-Fought at Iwo Jima, Guam, Philippines, and Guam
-Ship was sunk by Japan in July 1945

These 6 men are heroes.  And I am not sure there shouldn’t be a banner of them hanging right next to those who accomplished so much on the basketball court.  Three of these men played on the same team.  Can you even fathom losing three players to war, or in modern day issues COVID-19, from one team?  It would be considered the most tragic event in college sports in a generation.

Today is the day to pay special attention to these 6 men and all of the men and women who have lost their life for this country.  Honor them well!

Article written by Bryan the Intern

4 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: 6 Former UK Players Have Given Ultimate Sacrifice



  1. ekywildcat
    10:15 am May 25, 2020 Permalink

    The Indianapolis that Mr. Johnson was on had just delivered “Little Boy”, the first atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th. I’m sure most people know the story, still sends chills over me when I think of what those men when through. Of course, all those men when through a lot, true American heroes.



    • runningunnin.454
      11:14 am May 25, 2020 Permalink

      Yes, it is still the Navy’s single worst loss at sea. 900 lives lost, and up to 150 estimated killed by sharks making it the worst shark attack in history. The incident was summarized in the movie, “Jaws”.



  2. rockyou
    1:27 pm May 25, 2020 Permalink

    I love my UK sports as much as anybody, however these men who gave their lives for our country deserve a permanent place of recognition at UK more than anyone else!! Let’s all get behind this and make it happen !!



  3. Megan
    2:34 pm May 25, 2020 Permalink

    They certainly fought the good fight, a concept that’s far less clear during our lifetimes. There’s a good scene in “Three Days of the Condor” in which John Houseman is reminiscing about WWII and the OSS, predecessor to the CIA. He says: “I go back even further: to ten years after the Great War, as we called it … before we knew enough to number them.” Cliff asks: “Do you miss that kind of action, sir?” In his best John Houseman delivery, the reply comes: “No … I miss that kind of clarity.” Indeed.