Veterans Day carries very special significance for me. It was my life’s privilege to have parents who served. My father and mother were both World War II veterans. They met after the war at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital where my mother, Lt. Anna Kaseta was a Navy Nurse and my dad was a newly-commissioned Ensign in the just-formed Navy Medical Service Corp. The military was an integral part of my growing-up years and my days spent around Midshipmen at the Naval Academy along with countless Soldiers, Sailors and Marines on other military bases gave me a deep appreciation for those who serve. Today we recall some of golf’s most high-profile veterans.
Lloyd Mangrum: Lloyd is sometimes called the “forgotten star.” He was overshadowed in his career by Ben Hogan and Bryon Nelson. Mangrum served during World War II in Patton’s Third Army. Talk about tough! He was the recipient of two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars. He received two Purple Hearts, was wounded at Normandy and The Battle of the Bulge. Heroic? You bet. Mangrum went on the win 46 PGA Tour events including the1946 U.S. Open.
Patty Berg: Patty was a founding member of the LPGA Tour. She was the most high-profile female golfer in the 40s, 50s and 60s and is the greatest women’s major champion with 15. She had 60 tournament wins. She served in the United States Marine Corps from 1942-1945.
Ben Hogan: Hogan, one of golf’s icons, served as a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
Bobby Jones: The world’s greatest amateur golfer, like Hogan, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. During the war, he allowed for cattle to be raised on the grounds of his Augusta National Golf Club.
Jimmy Demaret: The likeable Texas served in the U.S. Navy.
Sam Snead: Snead was a Navy man during World War II.
Lee Trevino: The U.S. Marine Corps helped make Lee an extremely tough competitor. Lee served from 1956-60.
Orville Moody: United States Army. Of course his nickname on tour was “Sarge.”
Larry Nelson: United States Army, Larry fought in the Vietnam War and later learned to play golf in his 20s by studying Ben Hogan’s book — Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. Nelson went on to win 10 times on the PGA Tour including three major championships. One of the great injustices was the fact he was never picked to captain a Ryder Cup team. Good enough to lead men in war but not deemed worthy to captain a team of golfers by the PGA Of America?
Billy Hurley III: First graduate of the Naval Academy to win on the PGA Tour. Hurley served four years in the Navy after his graduation from Annapolis.
Finally, we would be totally remiss if we did not pay tribute to Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney, United States Air Force. Dan was a combat pilot who served three tours flying the dangerous skies over the Middle East, especially Iraq. In 2007 he founded Folds Of Honor. Folds Of Honor provides scholarships for the families of our fallen heroes. Folds Of Honor provides scholarships for both high school age children along with those seeking to go to college. Since it’s inception in 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded approximately 20,000 scholarships. In 2018-2019, nearly 4000 scholarships were awarded to military families, providing nearly $20 million in educational support.
Lt. Colonel Rooney is the director of Folds Of Honor and continues to make it his post-active service mission. He is also a member of the PGA Of America.
On this special day, we salute and thank all those who have served our country and answered its call.
We thank you — on behalf of a grateful nation.