On November 29, 1941, Army played Navy in front of 100,000 fans. Eight days later, the Japanese attacked, and the young men who battled each other in that historic game were forced to fight a very different enemy. Author Lars Anderson follows four players - two from Annapolis and two from West Point - in this epic true story.
Bill Busik: Growing up in Pasadena, California, Busik was best friends with a young black man named Jackie, who in 1947 would make Major League Baseball history. Busik would have a spectacular sports career himself at the Naval Academy, earning All-American honors as a tailback in 1941. He was serving aboard the U.S.S. Shaw when it was attacked by Japanese dive-bombers in 1943.
Hal Kauffman: Together, Busik and Kauffman rode a train across the nation to Annapolis to enroll in the Naval Academy. A backup tailback at Navy, Kauffman would go on to serve aboard the U.S.S. Meredith, which was sunk in 1942.
Henry Romanek: Because he had relatives in Poland, Romanek heard firsthand accounts in 1939 of German aggression. Wanting to become an officer, Romanek attended West Point and played tackle for the Cadets. He spent months preparing for the D-day invasion, and on June 6, 1944 - the day he would have graduated from West Point had his course load not been cut from four years to three - Romanek rode in a landing craft to storm Omaha Beach.
Robin Olds: The son of a famous World War I fighter pilot, Olds decided to follow in his father's footsteps. At West Point he became best friends with Romanek and the two played side-by-side on Army's line. In 1942, a sportswriter, Grantland Rice, named Olds to his All-American team. Two years later Olds spent D-day flying a P-38 over Omaha Beach, anxiously scanning the battlefield for Romanek, hoping his friend would survive the slaughter.
The tale of these four men is woven into a dramatic narrative of football and war that's unlike any other.