Big Men on Campus Redux

December 15, 2005


Soph center Roy Hibbert shows urge to emerge
The recent temperature drop and piles of leaves in the nation's capital let us know that the seasons are a-changing. But more telling to loyal Hoya fans of the passage from one season to the next is the intersection this weekend of fall sport finales and winter sport openers. Within the next 24 hours, Georgetown football will conclude its season just as men's and women's basketball commence theirs.

And speaking of the overlap of football and basketball, one of the delightful tasks I undertook 10 years ago was researching and writing a comparative piece for Georgetown Magazine about perhaps the two greatest athletes ever to wear the blue and gray: Al Blozis and Patrick Ewing. I called it "Big Men on Campus," but the title was politically corrected at press time to "A Tale of Two Hoyas." I have linked the original story here.

Patrick's legacy is much more familiar to today's Hoya faithful. And it should only grow as Patrick, Jr. looks to make his own mark in Hilltop athletic annals in the coming years.


Al Blozis aka "Hoya Hercules"
After sixty years, is Al Blozis at risk of being forgotten? Not on the world-wide web. In the years since "Two Hoyas" was published, I have come across two web pages (linked below) that remember Lieutenant Blozis and his heroism in battle. In addition, shortly after the 2004 death of former NFL star Pat Tillmon-turned soldier in Afganistan, Brian DeNovellis of News12 television in New Jersey came to DC and put together a seven minute news short on the once similarly-fated Hoya star. It aired on Memorial Day in 2004 and includes a few quotes from this blogger. It can be viewed through this link here using Windows Media Player (download here).


Legendary tandem

  • Al Blozis - Forgotten Superstar : A personal account by fellow Ft. Benning infantry officer Ray Spratt.

  • The Battle of the Huertgen Forest : The final story of Al's heroics is recounted firsthand by Paul Lambert, a surviving dogface from Lt. Blozis' platoon. In addition, Denis Kanach of the Athletic Department received a copy, in 2002, of the following supplementary account by Mr. Lambert to Ray Spratt.
    Hello, Ray. My name is Paul Lambert, and I just stumbled on to your Website and story of Al Blozis. It was very interesting to me because I was one of the four he went looking for.

    I remember the day he led us down to the little village in the valley below. It was my birthday. There were 12 of us, but a German sniper wounded one of the men just before we reached the little village.

    I was a Machine Gunner. Al sent me and three others to the furthest outpost. I don't know where he sent the other seven, but evidently they all got out of there safely. As soon as we got to the place where we were to set up the machine gun, a big old farmhouse at end of the valley, a German sniper got one of my 3 buddies and killed him. That left only three of us to manage that gun 24 hours-a-day for five days. We were pretty much exhausted and just about out ammo and food.

    On that last day, I knew I had to get back to the command post that Al had set up in the little schoolhouse at the bottom of the mountain where we entered the village. It was snowing and visability was next to zero. I left my two buddies to man the gun and took off very cautiously toward the Command post about a quarter mile away. In the dense snow, as I got about half way, I saw a huge form advancing toward me. I stopped with my pistol ready, and then suddenly realized it was Lt. Blozis. And he recognized me. I was about to say something, but he motioned to me to be quiet. Just then there was a blast from a German machine gun, and Lt. Blozis fell backwards to the ground. I carefully crawled on my stomach to him, but he was dead. He had several bullet holes in his body. I could do nothing except get back to my outpost.

    I knew nothing about what was happening to my Company. When I got back, I told my two surviving buddies what had happened. We didn't know what to do because we had no orders, or any communications. We knew that we just couldn't desert our post. If we didn't get help very soon, we were goners because the Germans were not taking any prisoners. Just toward evening, an old man from the village came to us and told us that we had to get out of there because our comrades had all left. He told us we were surrounded by Germans and he pointed out the only chance we had of getting out of there. He showed us the direction to go and where to start climbing back over the mountain that was the least German-infested route. It took us four nights of climbing in waist-high snow to get over the mountaintop and over to the American side. We only had to kill one German soldier on the way out.

    The rest of the story is long and I won't get into it. However I will say, we were able to get back to our outfit just in time to join the big attack on Colmar. The ironic part of the story is that, as we were advancing under artillery fire from the Germans, I was alongside Lt. Blozis's replacement: Lt. Johns. It was his first time in battle. I had to stop along the road to adjust one of my shoes that was hurting me. A few seconds later, an artillery shell came in just about on top of the new Lt. and instantly killed him.

    There is no one else that knows the end of this story except one buddy who I know is still living somewhere in Texas. These are the facts. Lt. Blozis was a Real American Hero who would never leave any of his men under any circumstances. Now you know the whole story of Lt. Blozis' life and how and why it ended. I am 83 years old and I would hate to have died and taken this with me.

    Paul Lambert



  • Gravesite of Al Blozis in St. Avold, France


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