Remembering Two Ohio State Football Greats Who Died In Combat

By Chris Lauderback on May 24, 2014 at 8:15a
An American B-25, similar to one Don Scott flew.
31 Comments

This Memorial Day weekend, as we have done since shortly after the Civil War, Americans take appropriate time to recognize those who died serving in the United States military. 

Originally dubbed Decoration Day, the day of remembrance was created to honor those who perished during the Civil War which still serves as the deadliest conflict in the history of the United States. After the United States became involved in World War I, the holiday grew to honor all service people who died in service to their country. In 1971, Memorial Day was officially declared a federal holiday. 

Scott was Ohio State's 1st two-time All-American quarterback
Don Scott, All-American quarterback

While we salute all American servicemen and women who died serving this great nation, today we would specifically like to honor the only two men in The Ohio State University's 285-man Varsity "O" Hall of Fame who died while serving in the United States military: Fred Norton and Don Scott. 

Don Scott arrived at Ohio State after a decorated high school career at Canton McKinley. At 6'2", 210 pounds, Scott showed off a versatility he would bring to Columbus as he played along both lines, served as the team's placekicker and punter while eventually taking on the left halfback / quarterback position as a junior and senior which caught the eye of Ohio State's football scouts. 

Eligible to play varsity football for the Buckeyes in 1938, Scott started at tailback for Francis Schmidt's 4-3-1 team. As told by the venerable Buckeye historian Jack Park, Scott switched to quarterback in 1939 as as the chief reason Ohio State surged to their first outright B1G conference championship since 1920. 

With Schmidt's job on the line, Scott came up huge in a 23-20 road win over a then-powerful Minnesota squad with three touchdown passes and two two-point conversions. Though they came up short against Michigan, Scott tossed a pair of touchdowns against the maize and blue on the way to capturing All-American and All-B1G honors.

After the football season, Scott laced up his basketball shoes and helped the 1939 basketball Buckeyes advance to the Final Four before they eventually lost 46-33 to Oregon in the national championship game.

The following year, Scott quarterbacked a disappointing 4-4 football team but managed to repeat as an All-American and All-B1G performer becoming the first OSU signal-caller to accomplish the feat.

Scott was just 23 years old when he died in his bomber
Scott in the Army Air Force (1942).

In early 2000, Scott was chosen by the Touchdown Club of Columbus as one of four quarterbacks on the Ohio State Football All-Century team alongside Joe Germaine, Rex Kern and Art Schlichter. 

Though Scott would be selected by the Chicago Bears with the ninth overall pick in the 1941 NFL Draft, the young man opted instead to volunteer his services in World War II. Scott had participated in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a government funded program launched to develop men into pilots should a military need arise. 

After entering the United States Army Air Forces as a commissioned pilot, Captain Scott participated in nearly 10 bombing missions. On October 1, 1943, Scott perished at age 23 when his B-25 bomber crashed during training exercises in England. 

In honor of Scott, exactly one month after his passing, a vote by Ohio State's board of trustees christened the school's recently opened airport as Don Scott Field


Fred Norton came to Ohio State via Marblehead, a town some 120 miles north of Columbus, and quickly distinguished himself as the very definition of student-athlete. 

A 5'11", 175-pound kid dubbed "The Smiling Irishman", Norton became Ohio State's first four-sport varsity letterman thanks to exploits in football, basketball, baseball and track. 

Lt. Fred Norton earned a Distinguished Service Cross in 1918
Fred Norton

Captain of the baseball team, Norton hit .442 to earn team MVP honors in 1917. Norton also captained the basketball team but his biggest accomplishments came in football. 

As Chic Harley's lead blocker, Norton helped the 1916 Buckeyes capture the school's first B1G football title and undefeated-untied season. Not just a blocker, Norton scored five touchdowns in a 128-0 blitz of Oberlin and scored six touchdowns in the first half of a 46-7 thrashing of Indiana. 

A noted scholar who carried a 4.0 grade point average, Norton, a forestry major, was invited to join Sphinx, the most prestigious senior honorary at Ohio State. In later years, names like Woody Hayes and Jesse Owens would join be invited. 

Norton would soon enlist in the Reserve Corps, becoming a PFC in Ohio State's school of military aeronautics and in early 1918, he was headed to fight the Germans in France.

In July, Lieutenant Fred Norton was leader of the 27th "Eagle" Pursuit Squadron. After numerous successful dogfights, one in particular which earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, Norton took two anti-aircraft rounds to the chest in a dogfight just weeks later. He managed to land his Nieuport 28 behind Allied lines but eventually died from his wounds and complications from pneumonia. Norton passed at the tender age of 23 years old. 

Less than five years after his passing, the first airport in Central Ohio, which sits just south of what is now Port Columbus, was named Norton Field in honor of this great Ohioan and American hero. 

Sometime this weekend, as you're enjoying the freedoms made possible by the many American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation, take a moment to tip your cap to them all, including Ohio and Ohio State's very own Don Scott and Fred Norton. 

31 Comments

Comments

SilverBullet-98's picture

Nice article.

"The Past Builds the Future"

+13 HS
Floyd Stahl's picture
+3 HS
RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

I had no idea that those airports were named after buckeye greats/fallen soldiers. I guess I always assumed they were just rich guys who had donated money to build the airstrips or a senator that helped to get the airports approved or something like that.

Shame on me for never bothering to research the facts. And shame on whomever developed our state history curriculum that I didn't study about these gentlemen during my grade school Ohio History class. 

+8 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I thought of myself as somewhat of an OSU football historian, but also didn't know of Don Scott and Fred Norton. Had heard my relatives speak of and had read about Iowa's Nile Kinnick, but wasn't aware of Buckeye fallen heroes.

Fitting, and worthy, tribute.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+4 HS
Spivan's picture

Rest well Brothers.

+5 HS
jpbuckeye's picture

As a veteran, I have had people thank me for my service on Memorial Day. I have replied thanks but your gratitude is far more deserved by those that died in service to our country.

Excellent piece of journalism, thank you.

I always say a prayer for our fallen brothers and sisters and will do so again Monday. They are so often forgotten over beer and BBQ (not that fun should not be had :-)

Happy Memorial Day fellow Buckeyes, please be safe.

+6 HS
Crumb's picture

My grandfather fought in WWII and was a hero to me, and he knew it. So he'd always tell me; 'I'm no hero the real heroes didn't come home'. While he was right in that those who made the ultimate sacrifice were the most heroic, the selfless attitude that he, you, and countless other veterans have of 'I'm no hero, I was just doing my job', is nothing short of heroic. So when I say thank you, it's out loud to the living but it's also to the fallen who died so that others may live and live free. Thanks JP.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+6 HS
BuckFly's picture

What a tremendous article about these two Buckeye heroes.

 

+9 HS
Patriot4098's picture

Just got a little teary eyed. Nothing I can think of saying ever seems adequate enough to honor those who have given their lives so I can live freely. Thank you, to all those who have served, and the patriots who have paid the ultimate price of freedom.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

+6 HS
Bamabucknut's picture

CHRIS

Great article.

Thank you

+6 HS
Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

I come from a family whose men (and a couple of women) considered it not just a duty, but an honor to serve in the US military. They are also dedicated Buckeyes, and proud of that heritage as well. My father was a veteran of the Korean War, all 5 of my uncles and two aunts were veterans of WWII, and my grandfathers were WWI vets. I served in the Army during the Vietnam era, though I never saw combat. I think that I can speak for all of my patriotic forbears when I say that military service changed my life for the better, and it was a privilege to serve with the fine men and women I encountered during my tour. It is very gratifying to me, a soldier who, in my time, was criticized for my choice to serve, to see so many folks, young and old, so appreciative of the sacrifice a stint in the armed services requires. Thanks to all of you who value those of us who served, and a special thanks to all of those who shared that sacrifice, putting their lives on the line to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. God bless all of you, and thanks for the great article, Chris.

+9 HS
1967Buck's picture

 Thank you Chris for writing about these heroes.

+3 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

There are times when I wish it was possible to upvote articles. This is one of those times.

 

+6 HS
Homey1970's picture

"On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields will bear the fruits of victory."

- D. MacArthur

 

+3 HS
BuckeyeChief's picture

Don Scott and Fred Norton,

 

Thank you for your sacrifice, and for paving the way for us to follow.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

+4 HS
osu78's picture

Great article. Having grown up surrounded by WWII vets (who were often Korea Vets as well, as was my Dad), one of the amazing things about that generation was how they came back and simply got on with their lives.  They never talked about what they did unless it was about some fun thing they remembered, such as my dad first shave of his life was on the banks of the Rhine River; I think their outlook was captured in a quote from one of the original Band of Brothers:" "I wasn't a hero but served with many who were." A truly amazing generation.

+5 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Carmen Ohio!  Thanks. 

+1 HS
ODEEZ330's picture

Go bucks! ! Go pups! !! Had many a practices at the don scott field in canton. Amazing men these two

O'Deez330
stark county football

doodah_man's picture

Those of us who grew up in Whitehall are well aware of Norton Field, located where Holy Spirit Church now sits. It was near the corner of Yearling and Broad (southeast corner). Norton was one of the great civilian fields of the 20s and 30s. One of its airman, Curtis Lemay, also an OSU grad, flew in army training aircraft there. What spelled the doom of Norton Field was none other than Charles Lindbergh. He was sent out to evaluate Norton Field as Columbus' stop on the first cross county passenger route. Because a portion of the route (because of traditionally bad weather) would require rail travel, Lindbergh determined that the airport needed to be closer to the east west tracks near 5th Ave (there used to be a passenger stop across the street from the old terminal where passengers woul disembark and switch modes of transportation). In later years, Norton Field was a civil field and in or about 1949, was sold to a developer who built houses for returning GIs. That area is still called Norton Field. A simple plaque remains on Broad talking about the field and Fred Norton.

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

+4 HS
doodah_man's picture

And while I am at it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_LeMay . Not an OSU athlete but from the 'bus, an OSU grad, and a somewhat accomplished military man. You might say he was responsible for helping Germany and Japan have their own Memorial Day.

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

+4 HS
ghalephoto's picture

Nice props, he was a big reason things ended in the Pacific when they did and knowing he is a Buckeye makes his life and career tthat much more interesting. 

+2 HS
Homey1970's picture

While I share a degree from OSU and service with the USAF in common with LeMay (and have a great amount of admiration for him), I must say that Lemay was more of a "fire first" leader.  I believe he was a perfect fit to lead the fire bombings in Japan and, later, SAC.  At the same time, if it was up to him, many of us probably wouldn't be here today...he would have attacked the Soviets (as early leader of Operation Vittles [Berlin Airlift] and Cuba (during the Cuban Missile Crisis).  Passion and a fire in his belly, I believe, made him a lot like that former WWII naval officer and commander of PC 1251, W.W. Hayes.  Still proud to call him a Buckeye!    

+2 HS
JeffCoBuck's picture

Both of my grandfathers served during WWII (one in the Army and the other a Marine: the Marine served on Iwo Jima), and they died almost a year apart, my second grandfather passing in June 2009.  He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March of that year.  He was in the hospital about a month and a half before his passing, and my family went to visit him.  I wish I'd have had a recorder of some kind, because he opened up to me in a way in which he never had before.  I can't remember 75% of the stuff he revealed to me.  One thing he said, though, that I will ALWAYS remember, is that when I asked him about being a hero, he said, "No, I'm no hero, none of us were: we were just doing our jobs."  That attitude, and the ones expressed above ("I'm no hero the real heroes are the ones who didn't come home", and "I wasn't a hero but I served with many who were") is EXACTLY what makes them heroes.  Doing the job that needed to be done, but totally understating their own role in getting that job done.  I will enjoy the day, but my mind will float periodically to those who died making the ultimate sacrifice.  And thank you for the article.  I really appreciate hearing about these types of back stories, especially with a Buckeye angle.

+3 HS
countrybuckeye's picture

My Dad is still with us.  An farm boy from Lima, Ohio, he followed his father, a WWI & WWII veteran, into the 'preparation' for WWII -- lying about his age to get into the Ohio National Guard.  At 6'2" 170, he fooled them good.  Dad found out, but told him to pay attention to your instructors, and train hard.  He was part of the D-Day operation "Overloard" landing on Omaha Beach - Easy Green sector.  I was able to take a trip with the Normandy Allies group in June 2009 with my Dad and Brother, a two week "class" of what the 29th Division did, from beach to the Rhine.  What I learned "in detail" is sadly unknown in the common by younger generations.  And these men are fewer in number by the day.  I will need to be the link for my Dads memories of his unit's campaign when he is gone.

He is a Buckeye, a graduate of tOSU. After did his job "over there", he came home, got married, had his two boys, worked in the insurance field. At some point, he decided to return to tOSU for post-graduate studies, earning his Doctorate in Horticulture Sciences, served tOSU as its Secretary of The School Of Natural Resources during his tenure, and Emeritus.

I can attest to what is commonly heard about these men who did return from WWII -- they spoke little about it to their families.  During a ceremony on the beach in 1994, Mom told her sons, "That is the first time I ever saw your father cry."  It was for those who fell that horrible, horrible day and following weeks -- those who never got to see the life after my Dad did.  That is why those who returned carried on productive lives, because that is the only way they knew how to honor their fallen comrades.

Memorial Day.  Please visit a veteran cemetery, pay your respects, then visit any VFW hall and salute them with a raised glass.

+1 HS
thatlillefty's picture

Great piece, Chris.

topsyt's picture

Thanks Chris, great piece of journalism-brings the proper perspective to this holiday.

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks Chris, nice article.  I'm from Canton and didn't know of Don Scott.  Is Don Scott Field (baseball) in Canton named after him?

Buckeye in Texas

ScarletArrow's picture

I believe it's the track & field next to McKinley HS, not sure if it includes the entire complex (w/ the adjacent baseball field).  

McKinley has a sign posted you can see from the highway when traveling south.  

Competed in my final HS varsity event there... always knew the name of the field... and always wondered who he was.

Don Scott - the memory of your character and sacrifice lives on.

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks.  This is going to date me to dirt but the high school wasn't built yet and it was a baseball field first.  I remember it was chain linked around the field so to hit one out it had to go I'd say 600+ feet.  The grass was more weeds than grass and the dirt was more rock than dirt.  Anyway I got lucky and drove a liner into right center should have been a double but the fences were back so far I got a trout around homer.  I remember the coaches yelling at me for not running all the way.  I got a peek while rounding second, I knew I had time.

Buckeye in Texas