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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Honoring those UK players who died in Service

It seems odd to say because since 1970, only 2 UK basketball players have served in the military (Charles Hurt and Carlos Toomer), but pre-1960, it was a common occurance for UK players to also wear the fatigues of this nation, many of them fighting overseas.  In fact, many of the UK greats who have their numbers in the rafters at Rupp Arena also fought for this nation:

-Alex Groza
-Ralph Beard
-Cliff Barker
-Cliff Hagan
-Frank Ramsey
-Lou Tsioropoulos

But today, on this Memorial Day, we want to honor those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for this nation.  And for UK, that list has 6 names on it.  5 of those men died while fighting in World War II and 1 during World War I.  Their names are:

Howard Kinne (played on the 1915 and 1917 teams)
          -died in France in 1918 as a member of the Army Air Corps.  Was the first aviator from Kentucky to die while in action.

James King (played on the 1940, 1941, and 1942 teams)
          -was a 2nd-team All-SEC player in 1941 and 1942.  Died when his plane was shot down in Germany in 1944.

James Goforth (played on the 1935, 1936, and 1937 teams)
          -was killed in the Battle of Saipan in 1944.  Earned Bronze Star and Silver Star.

Melvin Brewer (played on the 1941, 1942, and 1943 teams)
          -died while fighting in France in 1944

Kenneth England (played on the 1941 and 1942 teams)
          -was killed in Italy in 1945.  Earned the Bronze Star and Silver Star

Walter Johnson (played on the 1944 team)
          -died on the carrier Indianapolis in 1944

Thanks to Jon Scott’s website for providing this information.  For a complete list of those players who also served, click here.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

28 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Honoring those UK players who died in Service



  1. ChemCatUK
    9:19 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    This is such an important post. Thank you BTI!

    In honoring Walter Johnson, I’d suggest the book “All the Drowned Sailors” about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the struggle for survival by the crew in shark-filled waters. The ship had just delivered the pieces of the atomic bomb bound eventually for Hiroshima. Those men experienced hell on Earth in that water.

    God Bless our servicemen and servicewomen.



  2. BgCat
    9:29 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Good job BTI, that didn’t suck.



  3. Thanks to Our Gallant Men and Women
    9:58 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Great post. Am taking time, as we all are I’m sure, to reflect upon and pay tribute to all our brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom.



  4. BlueRedNeck
    10:00 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    BTI, I echo what the others have said – excellent and timely post! People of my generation (I’m 47) have a hard time even fathoming what out parents and grandparents went through during their youth. Yes, there have been some tough times, wars, and tragic events in the decades since, but nothing compares to the Great Depression and WWI & WWII. Folks back then certainly had to wonder if the world as they know it was actually coming to an end. They truly were “The Greatest Generation”. It’s sad that now we are starting to lose so many of them. If you have parents or grandparents who are still alive and lived during those times, a great way to spend today would be taking some time to talk to them about what it was like back then. Bring a digital voice recorder with you – you won’t regret it years down the road.

    Happy Memorial Day everyone. Spend it with someone you love.



  5. wildbluecatfan
    10:01 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Hate to split hairs on Memorial Day but the Indianapolis was not a carrier but instead, a cruiser.



  6. gary
    10:01 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Good post BTI. Those guys deserve the recognition. God Bless the USA



  7. shields eyes
    10:12 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Wow, a BTI post I could get to the end of. Thanks BTI.



  8. Duuuuuude
    10:56 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    The Indianapolis…..that was gruesome. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/indianapolis.htm



  9. Buzz
    10:59 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Excellent post BTI! Thanks for honoring their service and sacrifice!



  10. Cardkilla
    11:04 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    #1 ChemCatUK, I had the honor of meeting 12 surviving members of the USS Indianapolis while at a triathlon in Indianapolis. Those surviving men are my heros to the day. As I was leaving the hotel that Sunday morning one of the survivors walke up to me and asked what I was doing and I told him a triathlon. He asked if there was swimming in a triathlon and when I said yes he laughed and said that he doesn’t swim anymore. We sat down and talked for about 30 minutes. He said that his parents forced him to take swim lessons as a child and he never understood why he would ever need to know how to swim until after surviving those hellish days in the pacific. He said they could tell the time of the day by the tiger sharks and their feeding frenzies. If you haven’t read the book please read it.



  11. Some Guy in Kentucky
    11:09 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Very fitting post today



  12. raekwon
    11:11 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    The Indianapolis was a Portland-Class Navy Cruiser, not an aircraft carrier. The vessel had served in 10 Pacific battles and Johnson was killed in 1944, before the ship was sunk. Just clarifying. God Bless America.



  13. Mack
    11:42 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Sunk by a jap sub, the Navy waited too long in an attempt to rescue and most of the sailors were killed by sharks, many books on the subject.

    From your source reference:

    “After completing his training he was given sea duty as gunner’s mate aboard the cruiser Indianapolis. After taking part in many of the major campaigns in the Pacific including Iwo Jima, Guam, the Philippines and Okinawa, he was reported missing when his ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine after delivering atom bomb supplies to Guam. In September Seaman Johnson was officially reported as killed in action.”



  14. El Pollo Loco
    11:54 am May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Best BTI post ever. Maybe even the only good one. God Bless America and all those who gave their lives for us, as well as those past & present fortunate enough to make it back home.



  15. Mark Liptak
    12:31 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Very nice story; appropriate for this day. One slight correction however, the Indianapolis was a cruiser not a carrier.

    Mark Liptak



  16. Ridge Runner
    1:05 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Outstanding story, BTI & thanks!



  17. Chaz
    1:16 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Well done, young sir. Proper respect to the truly heroic.



  18. USS Newport News
    1:37 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Good post BTI.



  19. bung
    2:02 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    good post…nice look back



  20. Stoooooooooops
    2:07 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    As #4 said. The terms “hero” and ” bravery” are thrown around a lot these days, but the men and woman of that generation truely deserved to be called Hero’s! Every time a watch the Band of Brothers moves I tear up! If the rest of us could be half the men those guys are the world would be better off!
    Our country has problems I know, but it’s still the BEST country in the world because of the sacrifices made by our men and woman in uniform. God Bless all of them!!!!



  21. Band of brothers
    2:12 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Could you imagine the athletes today putting their careers on hold to join in the war effort, as they did in WW2! They truely are the greatest generation! It’s that simple and that heroic!



  22. the Big Dog
    2:59 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Very nice post. However, the Indianapolis was a cruiser, not a carrier and it sank in 1945.



  23. jimp
    3:51 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Being a veteran myself, I want to say God Bless all veteran’s, especially all the one’s who died fighting for our country.



  24. JPS
    3:56 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    #12, Johnson died in 1945. He was indeed on the ship when it was hit. (The 1944 was a BTI typo).



  25. BlueRedNeck
    5:23 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    Always like the monologue about the Indianapolis by Captain Quint in the movie “Jaws”. Chilling…



  26. W.W.B.B.N.D?
    8:32 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    I think that Cliff Barker was a P.O.W. in WWII.



  27. Bert Lawson
    8:57 pm May 27, 2013 Permalink

    The Indianapolis was not a Carrier. She was a Heavy Cruser



  28. Jed Bartlet
    3:07 pm May 28, 2013 Permalink

    #21 – although there are not AS MANY athletes today who would sacrifice so much, I would ask you not to forget Pat Tillman.