This Memorial Day weekend, we’ve shared a few stories of college football players who would give the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Pat Tillman, a former Arizona State Sun Devil and Arizona Cardinal put his football career on hold to serve his nation, eventually losing his life. While the story of Pat’s death may have been the most publicized in the War on Terror, this is not a story about Pat Tillman.
This past bowl season, I attended the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, sitting behind the Mississippi State bench. Throughout the game, I watched the interactions among players and coaches, and while everyone on the Bulldogs sideline seemed to having a great time, there was one player on the team that stood out. He jumped and cheered every play. He was built like a kicker and seemed ready to play. He was fully suited-up, he was the most excited guy on the sidelines, but I didn’t see him get in the game. I was beginning to wonder Van Horn was, and the people around me weren’t sure.
Late in the game, I saw an assistant coach tell John Van Horn three simple words,”you’re going in.” A few other players on the sideline, heard it or saw it,and began to approach Van Horn. Word spread down the sideline, and dozens of players came over, shook hands, gave five, gave him a pat on the shoulder. He took the field, lined up at defensive end for a Rice punt, and everyone on the bench stood up to watch him. After the kick, he came running back to the sideline, and before he made it, he was met by numerous other players, and coaches. So who is this John Van Horn?
He was a U.S. Air Force veteran and a Pat Tillman Foundation Military Scholar, selected as one of 60 of the best-poised leaders, who show strength in character, academic excellence and incredible potential. He would be named to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. He clearly meant a lot to everyone on the Mississippi State sideline.
If Memorial Day weekend left you wondering what you could do to help veterans today, consider the Pat Tillman Foundation.
“it is Pat’s life, principles and service that are his true legacy. The Pat Tillman Foundation honors that legacy by giving military veterans and spouses who embody those principles the educational tools and support to reach their fullest potential.“
Highly recommended reading about former players who sacrificed their lives during wartime:
Stories like John Van Horn, who I hope to know more about, is reason #96 of why we love college football.