How Military Service Teams Dominated College Football During World War II


With football fields viewed as proving grounds, the military fielded teams that competed against top college programs during World War II. The Fort Knox Armoraiders, Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks and other service teams played the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State. Military teams sometimes soared passed perennial powers in the national rankings.

With its tactical formations, violent turf battles and employment of military terminology such as “blitz” and “bomb,” football was thought to instill toughness, leadership and teamwork. “Football! Navy! War! At no time in history have these words been more entwined and intermeshed than they are now,” declared Commander Thomas J. Hamilton, head of the U.S. Navy’s pre-flight and physical training program and former Naval Academy football coach.


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