Wheelchair basketball team leaves on 1948 national tour
Feb. 18, 1948: Jack Heller, member of a wheelchair basketball team. is hoisted aboard an aircraft at Burbank airport as his team departs for a 12-day tour.
Before leaving, the team of World War II veterans was short of funds for their trip. Los Angeles Times Sports editor Paul Zimmerman mentioned in his Feb. 9, 1948, column that “The Birmingham Veteran Hospital’s wheel chair basketball squad has a cross country schedule set up and no dough for travel expenses.” They needed $7,500.
The donations poured in. A story in the Feb. 18, 1948, Times, reported that the “Hollywood Turf Club Associated Charities, Inc., Bing Crosby, Blevis Davis and others contributed…”
The above photo accompanied a short article in the Feb. 19, 1948, L.A. Times reporting:
An 11-man basketball squad of wheel-chair veterans left Burbank yesterday on a 12-day tour of eastern cites for a series of exhibition cage contests.
The trip is sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Los Angeles County Council of the American Legion. Local sportsmen contributed to the fund which is financing the jaunt for the paraplegic veterans, most of whom have been discharged from Birmingham General Hospital but are taking further treatment there.
The team plays in Kansas City, Chicago, Buffalo, Boston, New York, Washington, Richmond, Cincinnati and Memphis.
Members of the squad are Ronald Wallon, Lee Barr, George McReynolds, Charles Davison, Joe Lawson, Jack Heller, Bob Blakesley, Jess Rodriquez, Dean Camblin, Stanley “Stan” Den Adel and Louis Palmer.
The team returned on March 2, 1948, after winning eight of nine games.
October 1, 2012, 3:28 pm
A poignant moment captured by both the camera and the story of these World War II veterans. We often hear about our WWII veterans coming home to seemingly normal lives. Hardly ever do we see those who came home with the crippling effects of combat. This is The Greatest Generation in many ways.
They saved the world from Nazi dominance and came home to work at making the U.S. the greatest country of the 20th century.
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