Moving toward graduation and away from the Great Depression, Herman probably imagined a very different future from the one that was about to unfold, for this team from a small country town would be swept up in the greatest maelstrom ever seen - the Second World War.
My dad (the manager of the Frenchies) would graduate in 1938, attend Indiana University (graduating with a degree in business) and join the Air Corps as a captain in Army Intelligence. Herman followed a different route as a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division, parachuting into France on June 6, 1944 in the first wave of the D-Day invasion. He was wounded, but would fight on through western Europe and eventually end up at the Battle of the Bulge (where America suffered 75,000 casualties). By the time the war was over Herman would become Ripley County's most decorated veteran, having been awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, European Campaign Medal, French Fourragere, Netherlands Citation, Distinguished Unit Citation, the Victory Medal and ultimately receive a battlefield commission promoting him to Lieutenant.
These boys, from the same hometown, would go on to live different lives but the common bond of growing up during the Depression, fighting in a world war, and being team members on a Hoosier high school basketball team would shape them forever. And now, as the final chapter in their story, they have returned to where they began - lying less than 100 yards apart. © Chris Smith