The impact of legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes went well beyond the field of play. As an example, he made four trips to Vietnam to entertain American troops.
Editor's Note: This is original coverage of an event in the life of legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, taken from the archives of The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. These stories, photos and clippings in the Woody Hayes Archive predate the Internet era and are being presented in digital form for the first time.
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(This story originally published on July 3, 1966)Woody'll head for Viet Nam
By PAUL HORNUNG
Woody Hayes believes Uncle Sam's servicemen still have an interest in football, if they are half-way around the world and waging a jungle war.
Apparently the Army agrees, because by order of the Army, Ohio State's "Dean" of Big 10 coaches will make a two-week-and-a-half tour of Viet Nam for, as the orders read, "entertainment of military personnel."
Woody, complete with baseball cap, leaves Port Columbus at noon Monday and is scheduled to arrive in Saigon on July 6.
"I'm not an entertainer," he stipulates, although his WBNS-TV audiences would agree he comes pretty close. "I'm not sure yet exactly what I'll be doing or how or where. What I'd really like to do is just go into mess halls and places like that and show movies and talk football.
"Those kids love sports, they're crazy about it," attested the World War II Navy lieutenant-commander. "I hope that I can do a bit to bring them up to date on football-and sports. I'm really delighted at the chance to go. I've wanted to something like this for a long time."
Last summer, while on a hiking trip in Europe, Woody had an urge to visit several U.S. military installations he passed. "I felt guilty about not stopping," he confided later. But he had no authorizations or prior arrangements, so he decided against it.
But the idea has gnawed at him ever since. When the National Football League sent Johnny Unitas, Willie Davis, Sam Huff, and Frank Gifford to Viet Nam last winter, Woody's interest in such a trip was intensified. He was particularly interested in the report of the three NFL players and their comments about their reception by the GI's.
Later, star pupil Tom Matte (of the Colts) told Woody about his tour of service bases in Europe and how the young Americans were "starved for somebody to talk sports with them."
Woody set the wheels in motion. He'd hoped to receive his orders early enough to permit him to follow Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Open at San Francisco, before embarking for the East. But the governmental ok didn't come until a week ago (he'd requested that the news be held until after his departure Monday, but it's a pretty big secret to be kept and it wasn't.)
"I'm trying to get a hold of Johnny Unitas," he reported, "to get tips on things like what to wear and so forth. My wife suggested I take my baseball cap along to be recognized and I'm gonna do it. I won't have a short-sleeved white shirt on though.
"I went down yesterday and bought myself a set of fatigues. I thought that they might not have any big enough over there. Bought some rain gear too. I hope they'll have movie projectors over there. I'm taking along the 1965 Big 10 highlights and our own highlight film made in 1961. They're pretty good."
True to his fetish for preparedness, Woody has been studying maps and has read a recent book on Viet Nam.
"I don't expect it'll change the course of the war," he wryly noted of his visit, "but if it means something to those kids… or even only one kid, it's the lease I can do."
This is Woody Hayes… who does more for more people that anybody ever knows about. Because he wants it that way. He tried to avoid the fanfare for this gesture, too.
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(This story, published June 18, 1968, was filed from Vietnam and recounts Woody's third visit to the troops.)Woody wears long sleeves 2 coaches visit Vietnam troops
By HOMER BRICKEY Jr.
Editor's Note: Homer Brickey Jr. is a former Dispatch reporter who is now a lieutenant with the 64th Quartermaster Battalion stationed at Long Binh, Vietnam.
LONG BINH, VIETNAM- It's a rare day in June when Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes is seen wearing long sleeves, especially in 95-degree weather.
But the sleeves of Hayes' ample fatigues were rolled down when he and Bill Hess, Ohio University football coach, appeared here during a 23-day United Services Organization "handshake" tour of Vietnam, which will take them from the Mikong Delta to the DMZ.
When an Ohio State alumnus asked Hayes how he could stand to wear short sleeves on even the chilliest football Saturday in Ohio Stadium, he replied:
"When you're fat like me you don't notice the cold; and besides, your blood pressure goes up to about 300 in a game."
Speaking to troops of the 64th Quartermaster Battalion (Petroleum Operating), Hayes, a Navy lieutenant commander in World War II, advised the men to "get the rest of that education. We need you people."
"I came out here for one reason," he said. "I like to meet you better than some of the people back on the campus."
This is the third USO Vietnam tour for Hayes and the first for Hess.
Hess, a graduate of Columbus' South High School and a former freshman coach and line coach at Ohio State, was also in the Navy in World War II- as a frogman.
Both coaches predicted a good year for their teams. Hayes said of the Buckeyes: "They're a green team but a great team; they have good morale and they worked hard in spring practice. They have the best strength of any team we've had."
Hayes told the crowd, many of whom were Big Ten partisans, that he felt Purdue is unquestionably the best team in the country this year.
But he closed his talk with a note of hope- "If we can beat Purdue, we will be on the way to the Rose Bowl"- and a promise to the troops: "If we win the Rose Bowl, I'm going to get the game films and bring them right over here."
* * *The Woody Hayes Archive:
>> Ohio State hires a new coach (1951)
>> Rose Bowl win caps perfect season for Ohio State (1955)
>> Another national title, another Rose Bowl victory for Ohio State (1958)
>> Ohio State students protest as faculty bans Rose Bowl trip (1961)
>> Thrilling comeback win at Michigan makes Ohio State's season (1965)
>> Ohio State coach visits troops in Vietnam (1966)
>> Wearing short sleeves in the snow on the Ohio State sideline (1967)
>> Ohio State's Woody Hayes joins rally with Richard Nixon (1968)
>> O.J. visits Ohio State locker room after Rose Bowl win (1969)
>> Ohio State win over Michigan called 'our greatest victory' (1970)
>> No. 1 Ohio State loses at Michigan State in controversial finish (1974)
>> Hayes starts his 25th season as Ohio State coach (1975)
>> Ohio State comeback against Michigan is 'greatest game' (1975)
>> Ohio State coach sponsors a Vietnamese refugee family (1975)
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