Sun Bowl

1943

 

Second Air Force 13

Hardin-Simmons 7

 

Second Air Force Fight Song

 

Beginning in September 1939, the German army and the German air force rapidly conquered Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France and within one year had driven the British off the continent. The US military responded by calling for 84 combat groups equipped with 7,800 aircraft and manned by 400,000 troops by June 30, 1942. All told, U.S. Army air forces strength in World War II would swell from 26,500 men and 2,200 aircraft in 1939 to 2,253,000 men and women and 63,715 aircraft in 1945.

 

The Second Air Force was originally established as Northwest Air District on October 19, 1940 and activated on December 18, 1940 at McChord Field, Washington where it initially was assigned to Central Defense Command, U.S. Army, and later to Western Defense Command, U.S. Army. It was redesignated as 2d Air Force on April 9, 1941, and as Second Air Force on 18 September 1942. It moved to Peterson Army Air Base at Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 13, 1943.

 

The Second Air Force was home to many former collegiate and professional football players who were serving their World War II tour of duty. They fielded a football team during the war years and competed for West Coast supremacy with March Field of Riverside, CA and nationally with Randolph Field, Texas. In 1942, the Superbombers were a formidable force in college football. They marched to an undefeated season with only a tie against Washington State separating them from perfection. The won the Pacific Army title with a win over March Field. They were regarded as the third most powerful service team in the nation. The were invited to play in the 8th annual Sun Bowl, the only service team to appear in a bowl that season.

 

Hardin-Simmons was on a quest in the early 1940’s to compete on the playing field with much larger colleges. The 1942 season promised to derail this momentum as the Cowboys were depleted by personnel losses due to wartime enlistment. But the Cowboys shocked the nation by posting an undefeated record and dismantling the Southwestern Conference. They won over Baylor, SMU and tied Texas Tech and finished 24th in the AP poll. In the process, they led the nation in rushing offense and boasted the #1 rusher in single season history in Doc Mobley. They were chosen for the Sun Bowl as Border Conference champions, but lost their head coach in the process. Coach Warren B. Woodson was called as an officer to active duty before the contest and the Cowboys would be coached by his assistant, Clark Jarnagin. At 28, Jarnagin became the youngest man ever to coach in a postseason bowl game. The 1943 Sun Bowl was dubbed as the “Win for Woodson” Bowl.

 

The Sun Bowl lived up to its namesake. The weather was extremely sunny and very hot. The attendance was at capacity. The game was the only bowl of 1943 that featured two undefeated teams. The Cowboys and Bombers were the only unbeaten teams in the nation in 1942.

 

 

 

EL PASO, Texas, Jan. 1 (AP) Outplayed during the first half and trailing for more than three quarters of the game, the red-white-and-blue-clad Bombers of the Sec­ond Air Force came from behind in the Sun Bowl Friday to score a battering 13-to-7 victory over the wily Border Conference champions of Hardin-Simmons University.

 

An overflow crowd of nearly 16, 000 contributed the proceeds of the game to service relief funds.

 

The Cowboys from the plains of West Texas, sparked by a freshman fullback named Camp Wilson and Little Doc Mobley at half, swarmed over the burly Bombers in the second quarter and went into a 7-to-0 lead with Wilson scoring over his left tackle.

 

Mobley, the nation's leading ground gainer this season, set up the Cowboy tally when he inter­cepted a pass Billy Sewell, Washington State's passing star last season, and romped 66 yards to the Air Force 9 yard line. Hardin-Simmons failed to score then, but after the Bombers punted out to their 29, big Camp Wilson rammed over the goal line on the next play on a twenty-nine ride.

 

In the third, however, the Bombers came back after a fifty-two yard punt by Sewell set the Cowboys back on their heels. Big Vic Spadaccini, now a lieutenant in the Air Forces but for three years full­back at Minnesota and later with the Cleveland Rams, steamed over from the one-yard stripe. Capt. Al Bodney, a Tulane product, missed the conversion and the Cowboys still led.

 

The Bomber offensive went into gear in the fourth, aided by a pair of fifteen-yard penalties against Hardin-Simmons.  The two Minne­sota teammates, Lieut. Harold Van Every and Spadaccini, went into action and ended a combine aerial and ground drive with Van Every scoring the winning touchdown. Bodney this time converted.

 

Van Every, who played with the Green Bay Packers and with the Eastern Army All-Stars this fall, led the airmen. He scored one himself, racked up fifty-three yards in fourteen times with the ball, and completed four of seven passes for a net of 103 yards.

 

Wilson was the Hardin-Simmons star, netting 104 yards from rushing. Mobley, the national rushing leader, was able to gain only forty-four yards in eleven tries against the 205-pound bomber line.

 

While the Air Force eleven had twelve first downs to nine for the Cowboys, they were outgained on the ground, 117 yards to 148. It was in the air that the Bombers appropriately made their greatest strides, netting 178 yards to but forty-one for Hardin-Simmons.

 

Military gold braid was much in evidence and the stands were marked by great blocks of khaki and navy blue as servicemen turned out to watch the Bombers bring an undefeated season to a victori­ous end.

 

Note: The Second Air Force was reassigned to Army Air Forces in September, 1943, and to Continental Air Forces (later, Strategic Air Command), on April 16, 1945. It inactivated on March 30, 1946. It reactivated on June 6, 1946 at Fort Crook, Nebraska, assigned to Air Defense Command before inactivating again on  July 1, 1948. Reactivated on November 1, 1949 at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, it was assigned to Strategic Air Command. It inactivated on 16 September 1950 and was organized the same day with no change in station or assignment. It inactivated on January 1, 1975. Reassigned to Strategic Air Command on August 29, 1991, it reactivated at Beale AFB, California on September 1, 1991. It was relieved from assignment to Strategic Air Command and assigned to Air Combat Command on  June 1, 1992 before inactivating on July 1, 1993. It activated the same day at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, with a change in assignment to Air Education and Training Command.

 

Note: Hardin Simmons University, like many smaller colleges from the pre-modern era of college football (pre-1960), was able to compete with much larger programs in their long and illustrious history. Schools like Washington and Lee, St Mary’s (CA) and Hardin-Simmons found the expense of the modern game to be too much for a smaller institution to maintain. These smaller programs found themselves in a position of having to downgrade to survive. Today, HSU competes at the NCAA Division III level. But, the institution, like Carnegie Tech and Haskell Indian Junior College (KS), takes great pride in remembering when they stood toe-to-toe against programs like Texas Tech and New Mexico.

 

Note: Harold Van Every scored the winning touchdown in the 1943 Sun Bowl. The Green Bay Packers had selected Van Every with the ninth overall pick in the 1940 draft, making him just the fifth first-round draft choice in Green Bay history. Van Every was drafted into the service following the 1941 season and began flying with the Air Force in 1942. In 1945, his plane was shot down by the Germans and he was forced to eject from 22,000 feet.

 

Van Every was captured and spent a year in a prison camp in Poland. Once a month, he'd receive a package from the Red Cross that measured 15 inches wide and six inches high that contained canned meat, chocolate and some other staples.

But that was barely enough to stay alive, and Van Every lost 50 pounds during his year in the prison camp.

 

"You want to really punish a man, you starve him," said Van Every, who went from 200 pounds to 150 during his time in the prison camp. "That's how you can get a man to crack."

 

Van Every got out of the service in 1946 after the war ended and wanted to resume his football career. But during his plane crash, he had suffered back injuries and the pain from football would have been too great.

 

Note: The 16,000 attendance figure was a record for the Sun Bowl at that time and is even more interesting considering that the Office of Defense Transportation forbade all but local attendance for the contest. Students from HSU and servicemen from the Second Air Force effectively did not attend.

 

The flag arrived "Texas Style". The Sun Bowl Trophy.

 

It was a patriotic affair with the presence of the Second Air Force.

 

Superbomber back sweeps the end in photos above.

 

Hardin-Simmons hung tough with the more experienced Bombers: a stop on the left and gang tackle on the right.

 

Somewhere in that pile, Spadaccini scores Bombers' touchdown from 1 yard out (2nd Air Force in white helmets with stripes).

 

The Second Air Force Superbombers are gone, but Hardin-Simmons lives on as a small college power.

 

Attendance: 16,000

 

Scoring Summary

 

Second Quarter

HSU- Wilson 29 run (Ryan kick)

 

Third Quarter

2nd AF- Spadaccini 1 run (Kick failed)

 

Forth Quarter

2nd AF- Van Every 4 run (Bodney kick)

 

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