Sports Heroes Who Serve: Minor League baseball players have answered the call



Billy Southworth Jr.

Billy Southworth Jr. had baseball in his blood. His father was the director of the Baseball Hall of Fame, William Harold Southworth.

The young Southworth played five seasons, from 1936 to 1940, in the minor leagues with the Cardinals, the Philadelphia Athletics and finally with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On December 12, 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, was subsequently commissioned and carried out bombing missions in Europe in 1942 and 1943 during World War II.

In early 1945 he was killed when his B-29 Superfortress crashed in Flushing Bay, NY

Gus Bebas

Gus Bebas played baseball in 1939 and 1940 in the minor leagues with the Chicago White Sox.

On January 23, 1940, he enlisted in the Navy. At the beginning of 1941, he was appointed naval aviator. As the pilot of an SBD Dauntless dive bomber, he was assigned to Bombing Squadron 8 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.

On June 6, 1942, he participated in the Battle of Midway, braving heavy anti-aircraft fire from Japanese warships. One of his bombs damaged a Japanese heavy cruiser, the Mogami, which earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

While on a training mission off Naval Air Station Barbers Point Oahu, Hawaii, July 19, 1942, he was killed in an accident.

On May 15, 1943, the escort destroyer USS Bebas was commissioned. It was named in his honor. The ship has participated in numerous Pacific campaigns, including the Battle of Okinawa.

Bernard Dolan and Matthew S. Lanighan

Cpl. Bernard Dolan and Army Sgt. Matthew S. Lanighan were best friends. Dolan was a pitcher and Lanighan was a catcher. They played together on several minor league baseball teams.

In 1918, they enlisted in the military, as the United States had entered World War I the year before.

Both were assigned to an artillery unit of the 78th Infantry Division in France. Both were killed during the Meuse-Argonne offensive and are buried in the American cemetery of Meuse-Argonne in France.

A December 11, 1918 obituary in the Union-Sun & Journal of Lockport, NY states: “The two boys were inseparable friends. In the army, they were allocated places side by side and so they went into the battles of France.

Clarence Milton “Milt” Drum

Clarence Milton “Milt” Drumm, born in 1889, grew up on a Kansas farm. He left the farm to play for several minor league baseball teams in Kansas and Nebraska from 1910 to 1917.

In 1917, after the outbreak of World War I, Drumm enlisted in the army.

On May 28, 1918, his unit, the 28th Infantry Regiment, captured the village of Cantigny, France, from the German 18th Army. Drumm, a second lieutenant, fearlessly led his platoon through shell and machine gun fire and was killed in battle. He was 28 years old and later received the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.



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