An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Sports Heroes Who Served: Heisman Trophy Winners Served During WWII

You have accessed part of a historical collection on Some of the information contained within may be outdated and links may not function. Please contact the DOD Webmaster with any questions.

Sports Heroes Who Served is a series that highlights the accomplishments of athletes who served in the U.S. military.

Sports stories generally lend themselves to superlatives. A story about back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners from West Point who served in World War II and who starred as themselves in a postwar movie almost writes itself. Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard and Glenn Davis couldn't have made this up.

A man in a military uniform poses for a photo.
Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard
Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard is shown in a photo from his 1947 West Point yearbook.
Photo By: Courtesy of Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard
VIRIN: 470921-O-ZZ999-002C
A man in a military uniform poses for a photo.
Glenn Davis
Glenn Davis is shown in a photo from his 1947 West Point yearbook.
Photo By: Courtesy of Glenn Davis
VIRIN: 470921-O-ZZ999-001C

Despite his nickname, Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard was never a doctor. He got the moniker because his father was a physician.

But Blanchard and his father shared a love of football and the talent and physical prowess needed to succeed at the game. Blanchard's father, who was also named Felix, had played college football at Tulane University and Wake Forest University.

The younger Blanchard was snapped up by the Tar Heels in 1942, and after playing just one season, he was drafted into the Army in 1943. He was stationed in a chemical warfare unit in New Mexico, but he soon got noticed by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, which enrolled him in 1944.

A football team poses for a photo.
Championship Team
Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard, No. 61, poses for a photo with the 1941 Saint Stanislaus College prep school Gulf Coast championship team.
Photo By: Courtesy of Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard
VIRIN: 410921-O-ZZ999-003

During his three years (1944 to 1946) playing football as offensive fullback at the academy, the Black Knights compiled an amazing 27-0-1 record; the team was undefeated, except for a tied game against Notre Dame.

Besides playing fullback, Blanchard also filled in as a placekicker, punter and linebacker on defense.

During his time with the Black Knights, Blanchard teamed up with halfback Glenn Davis to form one of the most lethal rushing combinations in football history. As a result of their partnership, Blanchard acquired the nickname "Mr. Inside," and Davis became known as "Mr. Outside."

A football player leaps into the air cradling a football in his arm.
Davis Drawing
A drawing shows halfback Glenn Davis playing for the Los Angeles Rams in 1950.
Photo By: Courtesy of Glenn Davis
VIRIN: 500921-O-ZZ999-001

In 1945, Blanchard was bestowed with college football's most prestigious honor, the Heisman Trophy. The following year, Davis earned that trophy, as well.

In 1946, Blanchard was selected third overall in the 1946 National Football League Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, receiving a lucrative offer of $130,000.

Instead, he chose to make a career in the Air Force beginning in 1947, where he trained to become a fighter pilot.

During a routine mission in 1959, Blanchard's F-100 Super Sabre developed a fuel leak and caught on fire. Rather than bailing out and risking that his jet would fly into a village, he remained with the stricken aircraft and landed safely at Royal Air Force Station Wethersfield near London, England.

A man in a football uniform and helmet poses for a photo.
Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard
Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard poses for a photo in his Black Knights football uniform sometime between 1944 and 1946.
Photo By: Courtesy of Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard
VIRIN: 460921-O-ZZ999-003

He flew fighter aircraft during the Korean and Vietnam wars. During the Vietnam War, from 1968 to 1969, he flew 84 missions over North Vietnam.

In 1971, Blanchard retired from the Air Force as a colonel.

Davis, Blanchard's Black Knight's teammate, went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams in 1950 and 1951.

Beyond service to their country, beyond college football's most prestigious award, both Blanchard and Davis racked up another lifetime achievement: Each played himself in the 1947 movie "The Spirit of West Point."

More Stories of Sports Heroes Who Served
sports graphic
Sports Heroes Graphic
Sports Heroes Who Served graphic - with title
Photo By: DOD
VIRIN: 200706-D-ZZ999-903

Related Stories