THE TWO STAR SUBSTITUTE
In the fall of 1943, 40th Bomb Group personnel were learning how to fly and maintain their new B-29 type bombers at Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas. Most of an aircrew's time was spent in ground training classes since few YB-29s were on base. B-17 and B-26 type aircraft were also used for flight training.
The citizens of Pratt were typical rural, small-town folks. Above all their other interests, they were warmly hospitable to the men assigned to the local air base. The high school's football games were played at night. Many 40th Bomb Group's soldiers were football fans, and they attended many games.
One particular game against a team from Wichita is still remembered by the 40th Bomb Group veterans who witnessed the incredible event that took place on the field. I cannot recall Wichita's huge score, but Pratt's score is easy to recall -- it was Zero.
Major General Charles Borne, US Army Air Corps, was visiting the 40th Bomb Group on the day of the game with Wichita. Some of us had served under the General's command in the Caribbean Theater in 1941-1942. We called him Muzzle Blast Borne. He was a large man, with a loud, and often profane, voice. This habit was very evident after he had a few drinks. He played football on his West Point team, and retained a great love of the game through the years since leaving the military academy. When the Mayor of Pratt asked Muzzle Blast to go with him to the Wichita game, the General accepted the invitation without hesitation.
The two men started the evening at the Officers Club bar where the General had a few drinks. They arrived at the stadium late in the second half when Wichita was dominating the game. The Wichita team kept running up the score while the Pratt team was utterly helpless. At one point near the end of the game, Wichita was about to score again when the entire Pratt crowd stood up and erupted in a very impassioned plea for their team to prevent another score. General Borne could take no more.
The crowd suddenly became quiet, and stood in stunned silence as a big man in uniform with stars on his shoulders, ran out onto the field and went straight to the end of the scrimmage line. He bent over, took a three-point stance, and shouted, "Come on, Boys. Let's hold this line. Don't let-um score." The referee stopped the game while the Mayor and a Policeman escorted General Borne from the stadium.
* From Ira V. Matthews' Eighty-one War Stories. *