On Saturday we started a tribute to Trojans who served this country, in honor of Memorial Day. Today we continue that tribute by honoring another man of Troy who served his country not once, but three times.
For repeated acts of courage and bravery, we tip our hats to Ralph Heywood.
Heywood grew up in California during the midst of the Great Depression. As a result, he was no stranger to hard work, but it paid off when he earned himself a scholarship to USC. Still, he worked on the side as busboy at a sorority house.
Of all the jobs you can have as a young college male, working in a sorority house has got to be at the top of the list!
On the field, his skills were undeniable. A two-way end, Heywood earned the respect and admiration of his fellow teammates and as a result, he captained the 1943 squad. The team finished 8-2, including a Rose Bowl victory of 29-0 over the Washington Huskies.
But Heywood never played in that Rose Bowl, nor did he play the entire second half of the season. He was drafted to the South Pacific, to serve aboard the USS Iowa in World War II. Even thousands of miles away from football, he still earned All-American honors as an end and a punter.
Upon completing his duty, Heywood returned to USC to complete his degree in cinematography. After that he pursued a career in professional football, playing for the All-American Football Conference Chicago Rockets (1946), as well as the Detroit Lions (1947-48), the Boston Yanks (1948) and the New York Bulldogs (1949) of the NFL. When he wasn’t playing ball he enjoyed playing tennis with Charlton Heston, and golf with Bob Hope.
No big deal.
He retired from football after the ’49 season, but he continued to fight on in other ways. In 1952, Heywood returned to active duty with the Marine Corps to serve in the Korean War. For most people, serving in one war would be more than enough for a lifetime. And who could blame them? The kind of things one sees and experiences while fighting in a way are hard to put into words. It’s easy to see why most people would find all kinds of ways to avoid serving in a war.
Ralph Heywood is not like most people.
After having served in World War II and the Koren War, with every bit of that Fight On spirit still left in him, Heywood served as a commander for the 26th battalion in the Vietnam War. In total, Heywood spent 32 years in the Marine Corps.
Later in life, Heywood met his eventual wife Suzie, and the two would remain married until his death on April 10, 2007. He was 85 years old.
It takes a special kind of person to make a career out of the Marine Corps, and because of their selflessness, the rest of us get to live comfortable, easy lives. So for his bravery and courage in the face of oppression on three separate occasions in three separate wars, we would like to thank Heywood for his efforts.
Fight On Forever, Ralph Heywood. We salute you.