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The rest of the story is necessary/Paul Peterson

September 4, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

Late Houghton County Undersheriff Gary Beauchamp had a saying after he would release a story to me on the news desk at the Daily Mining Gazette.

"You have a part of the story. Now, I'll give you the rest of the story," he would say, adding details no one ever got to read about.

I've always remembered that cachet and tried to apply it to sports stories I would write.

Two particular stories that seemed to fit that category involved a former Ontonagon High athletic standout in the 1960s and a L'Anse High football player in the 1970s.

The Ontonagon product was a three-sport performer in football, track and basketball for the Polar Bears (their nickname back then).

But like many young men of the Vietnam War era, his name soon came up in the military draft.

Willing to do his duty for what unscrupulous politicians told us was an honorable war, he took his training and was by all accounts, a very good soldier.

Serving in Vietnam, he was a rifleman in an infantry unit in 1968 when he stepped on a landmine that took off both legs.

Like many soldiers involved in that war, he returned to a country that offered little in the way of comfort or solace.

He learned to drive a car that was specially made to account for his disability. And he made every effort to return to his former life, but the severe handicap made that all but impossible.

One night, after having too much to drink, he drove off a steep embankment and was killed.

The official American death count in Vietnam was over 57,000. But taking into all the factors that vets had to return with, it was probably five times that number. The young man from Ontonagon was one of those latter casualties.

The L'Anse football player, who was just hitting his stride as a runner, didn't face the perils of war. But he became a victim nonetheless.

Playing on a cold and rainy day at Ewen-Trout Creek, the young Purple Hornets back was making a cut on the slippery field when he took a hard shot from a E-TC defender.

The old field at Ewen was not affectionately known as "The Swamp," because of its location near a marsh. Walking on it - much less running - was sometimes a task.

You have to remember that football safety equipment in the 1970s was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today.

The hit the young back received was directly in the kidney area, and he immediately went down. He was taken off the field by an ambulance.

Complications from the injury eventually led to him being put on a dialysis machine. Anyone who has ever put on dialysis knows how restricting a life than can be.

The former football player lived on for quite a few years before passing on. But his life had been altered forever by one brief moment on a slippery high school football field.

That's why for every story you read, there is invariably a rest of the story ...

 
 

 

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