Today being the Fourth of July, it is only fitting that we point to two former football players that truly epitomize what the cadet-student-athlete and the citizen-soldier are all about: Joseph C. Missar and Frank M. “Skip” Murphy.
While those names may ring familiar to many Citadel fans, to those who don’t know them, they are two members of the Class of 1965 who gave their all on the football field and eventually gave their all with the ultimate sacrifice.
They are indeed worthy of being remembered.
Every school aims to create traditions for its football team – Clemson rubs “Howard’s Rock”; South Carolina enters the field with “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Notre Dame has its “Play Like a Champion” sign.
The Citadel’s tradition is in its graduates, the true student-athletes, the whole person, the citizen-soldier. The tradition was born, not manufactured. It’s real and it lives in each graduate. It is now be remembered and reflected in a memorial to all Citadel men killed in action in Vietnam, and personified in a bronze statue of Joe Missar and Skip Murphy.
These leaders from the 1964 football team gave their lives in service to our country in the Republic of Vietnam; Joe on May 6, 1966, and Skip on December 7, 1966. No school or academy can point to more courageous and patriotic examples of leadership for their young athletes.
Their likeness stands in bronze atop a granite base, honoring them and all of their Citadel colleagues killed in Southeast Asia, as an inspiration for the team and the Corps of Cadets in perpetuity. That statute resides outside The Citadel’s locker-room in the Altman Athletic Center in the south end zone.
The tribute serves as a reminder to those who lost grandfathers, fathers, brothers, uncles, classmates and friends in that conflict, but it is also a tangible way to express to our cadets the true meaning of sacrifice.
Since the statute was erected, the Bulldogs take the field by huddling first with these great players.
Missar was the last Citadel football player to earn first-team All-Southern Conference recognition for offense and defense, and was a standout on both sides of the ball, playing guard on offense and linebacker on defense. He was a three-year letter winner who served as co-captain his senior season and earned first-team All-State and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honors. Missar was twice named the Southern Conference Lineman of the Week (for his play against Army, despite losing 34-0) and received several league player of the week awards. Shortly after graduating, he joined the Marines as a 2nd Lieutenant and was killed in action at Quang Nam Province. He was enshrined posthumously into The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
Murphy was an offensive lineman (center) for the 1962, ’63 and ’64 teams who also played linebacker and called the defensive signals his senior season. Serving as team captain his senior season, Murphy snapped the ball for quarterbacks Sid Mitchell, Wade St. John and John Breedlove, and kicker Pat Green and punter Kroghie Andersen. He also opened holes for running backs Nick DiLorento and All-Southern Conference and All-State performer Mike Lane. As a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was killed in action while in Meihelin Plantation.
While both men are memorialized at Johnson Hagood Stadium, thanks to a fund-raising effort by the Class of 1965, Missar and Murphy are also honored on the wall outside the Bulldogs’ locker room inside Seignious Hall. Observing this impressive memorial and tribute with a dry eye is nearly impossible.
Each time The Citadel football team takes the field, Joe and Skip take the field with them. They are the legends, and this is the tradition. Then. Now. And forever.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy ’65 contributed to this story.
– Andy Solomon –
Associate Athletics Director