February 19, 1945 - The Assault on Iwo Jima: D-Day in Japan


Jack Chevigny was a star halfback under Knute Rockne who became famous in the Win One for the Gipper game by scoring the game tying touchdown. He would also go on to play in the All-Star Game against the Giants. After college, Chevigny would coach the Chicago Cardinals and then led the Texas Longhorns to victory against his Alma Mater in 1934. After the game, Texas alumni gave their coach a gold pen with an inscription, "To an old Notre Damer who beat Notre Dame."

In 1943, Chevigny enlisted in the Army. After three months, the Private became a first lieutenant's commission within the Marine Corps. According to his sister, he wanted "to be with the best" and changed services. He became an instant propaganda magnet where his stunning good looks in uniform made the ideal picture. At Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Chevigny became the head football coach, leading the team to a 6-2-1 record in 1943. The following Janaury, 1stLt Chevigny needed still and was granted his request to transfer to the Pacific theater. This time his brother says, Jack needed to "be there with the boys."

Traveling to the Pacific, Chevigny met Captain George Franck. Franck was a first-round pick by the New York Giants and idolized Chevigny growing up. Franck was a seasoned fighter pilot but had little experience in ground combat. During the assault on Iwo Jima, Franck sought assistance from the marines already on the beach. While under fire, Franck met up with Chevigny while taking cover in a large shell hole. Despite Chevigny assuring Franck it would be safer in the hole, Franck left the hole and began moving to the south. Minutes later, Franck heard that a mortar had a direct hit on the very hole him and Chevigny were seeking cover in.

Back on the home front, Chevigny's story became one national patriotism and he was depicted a hero. When the Japanese boarded the USS Missouri to surrender, a naval officer noticed the Japanese signing with a gold pen. Recognizing the inscription, the officer seized the pen and returned it to the rightful owner's family. In addition, another inscription was added "To Jack Chevigny, a Notre Dame boy who gave his life for his country in the spirit of Notre Dame."

Unfortunately, this amazing story of the pen was a complete fabrication but is telling tribute of the war hero Chevigny became. Jack was a true American hero that went to battle for the Marine next to him, there for the boys. To read the full story and see some old football pictures, read the original article in Leatherneck Magazine.

Jack Chevigny was not the only Notre Dame football star on the ground at Iwo Jima. Angelo Bertelli had been drafted during his Heisman winning year and would see action on the shores of Iwo Jima in February as well. Bertelli would have a close encounter with a mortar as well but luckily he was fifteen feet away from where the shell hit. By March, he returned to his station in Guam and was back in the United States the following year.




Keywords: jack chevigny, world war ii, d-day, iwo jima, angelo bertelli, texas, army, knute rockne, george gipp, win one for the gipper, football

Posted On: 2012-02-19 00:15:02 by IrishTrpt07

   Comments:

      Were you there? Have more to add? Leave a comment and let us know!

   Posted By: Cappy Gagnon at 2013-11-07 09:26:32[#1]
Your mention of the WWII death of George Murphy would trigger a powerful memory among any Notre Dame men who were on campus during the Fall of 1962. His younger brother, John Murphy, then the frosh coach at Notre Dame, delivered a very powerful and heartfelt talk at a pep rally, which left few dry eyes in the crowd.
Reply To

   Post New Comment

Name: *
Comment: *

Reload Image
Enter Captcha (case sensitive):

Today in ND History (2010-2014) is in no way affiliated, endorsed or sponsored by the University of Notre Dame.            TINDH v2.0.9.6