Third Down and a War
to Go: The All-American 1942 Wisconsin Badgers, a hardback, was released in the fall of 2004, with a 2005 copyright
date. On the cover is the 1942 Wisconsin team picture, taken on the opening day of fall practices; plus individual military
photos of Pat Harder (Marine), Dave Schreiner (Marine), Ken Currier (Air Forces pilot), Dave Donnellan (Army), and Jerry Frei
(Air Forces, P-38 fighter pilot).
When longtime University of Oregon and National Football League coach Jerry Frei
died in 2001, many of his former players attending his memorial services were astounded to learn that he had been a decorated
P-38 fighter pilot in World War II. He never brought that up with his players. But like so many other veterans, he hadn’t
talked much about the war with his children, either.
Late in Jerry Frei’s life, his son – author and journalist Terry Frei – belatedly
began asking more questions about the young pilot’s experiences. As they talked, a frame of reference was the Wisconsin
Badgers’ 1942 team picture on Jerry Frei’s den wall. Sophomore backup guard Jerry Frei, then only 18, was in the
fourth row of that 1942 photo, behind All-American end Dave Schreiner and star halfback Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch. The
elder Frei spoke of how the players on one of the greatest college football teams of all time went off to serve their
country after their glorious season – and about how not all of them made it back.
After his father’s death, Terry Frei set out to learn more about the team and the men in that picture. What
he learned left him forever changed.
On December 11, 1941, Schreiner wrote to his parents, “I’m not going to sit here snug as a bug,
playing football, when others are giving their lives for their country. . . . If everyone tried to stay out of it, what a
fine country we’d have!” Schreiner didn’t stay out of it. Neither did his teammates.
In the final-fling atmosphere
common on college campuses as the first year of U.S. involvement in the war was winding down, the Badgers climbed up the national
rankings under the guidance of coach Harry Stuhldreher, the quarterback of Notre Dame’s famed “Four Horsemen.”
Stars and scrubs alike had enlisted in various branches, were awaiting their callups, and knew that each game brought them
closer to military service.
Schreiner and the Badgers’ other co-captain, halfback
Mark Hoskins, both came from tiny Lancaster, Wisconsin, and the long-time buddies and teammates both planned to become pilots.
But Schreiner’s color blindness ruled him out as a pilot, and after he renounced a pre-medicine student deferment, the
two-time All-American end became a Marine officer.
As the war raged on, the Badgers sailed through Harm’s Way, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, pushed the envelope
as pilots, and led units in the fierce Pacific island battles.
Through exhaustive research and interviews with the remaining Badgers, their families, and combat comrades, Terry
Frei tells the story of this band of brothers. In particular, the climactic material about the "Great Escape"
prison camp, plus the Battle of Okinawa and the role of several Badgers in it, has tugged at readers’ hearts.
Readers and reviewers
agree: This isn't about one team. It's an All-American story.
WHS hardback or paperback
Tattered Cover hardback Tattered Cover trade paperback
Amazon hardback Amazon trade paperback
B&N.com hardback B&N.com trade paperback
Amazon Kindle B&N Nook
Online Interview with Terry Frei about Third Down and a War to Go
Wisconsin Public radio Interview with Terry Frei about Third Down and a War to Go
Story/blog about the Marines' 1944 Guadalcanal football game and subsequent Battle of Okinawa
Most stores shelve
Third Down and a War to Go in the World War II or U.S. History sections -- and not in sports. If not in stock, the hardback
and paperback generally can be ordered at individual bookstores.
"This is a story of the highest
degree, one that will leave the reader at various times laughing, mournful, amazed, and inspired. Third Down And A War
To Go is much more than just a football story. It is much more than just a war story. It is a story about us."
Schreiner's is among the most compelling, the stories of these young men and their efforts and the battlefield recall a different
era. . . These Badgers did their job as teammates on the gridiron, and they headed off together to fight the Germans and Japanese,
united in their purpose and with a grateful nation behind them."
--Scott Angus, editor, Janesville Gazette, son
of team manager Robert Angus
"Great job. So good
that I was brought to tears. So good that I almost need to visit the cemetery in Lancaster, Wis., and say 'thanks' to Dave
Schreiner and Mark Hoskins." --Randy Jesick, journalism professor,
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Third Down and a War to Go, a trade paperback, was released in 2007. The cover
shows the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers' usual starting lineup. The line, from left to right, facing the camera: RE Dave Schreiner
(Marine), RT Paul Hirsbrunner (Marine), RG Ken Currier (USAAF pilot), C Fred Negus (Marine), LG Red Vogds (Navy), LT Bob Baumann
(Marine), LE Bob Hanzlik (Marine). In the backfield, QB Jack Wink (Marine) takes the snap in front of RHB Mark Hoskins (USAAF
pilot), FB Pat Harder (Marine), LHB Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch (Marine). The irony of this picture is the Badgers
ran the Notre Dame box offense and almost never ran out of T formation.
"Terry Frei set t out
to learn more about his father. He wound up bringing to life a team, a cause and an era. Likewise, all that the young men
of the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers set out to be was college students and football players. But circumstances called most of them
to do something greater: Save the world. Impressively researched and reported and powerfully written, Third Down and a
War To Go will
put you in the huddle, in the front lines and in a state of profound gratitude -- not only to the Badgers and the hundreds
of thousands of men like them, but to Terry Frei.”
--Neal Rubin, Detroit News and author of Gil Thorp
"Mythology is nice. Truth is better. The '42 Badgers were boys
being boys. Good for them. Good for Terry Frei, who chose to write their story truly in his book, Third Down and a War
to Go: The All-American 1942 Wisconsin Badgers.What
a powerful piece of work the book is, a telling detail in the great portrait of America at war, young men and women who saw
their duty and did it no matter how much it scared them."
-- Dave Kindred,
The Sporting News and author of Sound and Fury
times you hear athletes called heroes, their deeds and accomplishments on the field or court are characterized as courageous.
After reading Third Down and a War to Go, I am embarrassed to have ever been thought of as brave or courageous. Enjoy this adventure in history, life,
and in courage and take it from a so-called ‘tough guy’...keep the hanky close by.”
--Dan Fouts, Hall of
Fame quarterback and ABC-TV sportscaster
researched and relentlessly touching. The true allegory of football and war, minus the cliches.”
--Jay Greenberg, New York Post
book that not only makes you keep reading, but makes you care...The last chapter in Frei's book, 'Lives and Deaths,' details
what happened to everyone from that squad, and by the time you get there, you really want to know about them. It's that kind
of book, relatively modest in intent but rich in fabric and execution."
San Francisco Chronicle
"The drama, heroism and pathos of this book would make a great movie
that would star two Grant County men -- Lancaster's Dave Schreiner and Mark Hoskins."
--Jon Angeli, Grant County Herald-Independent
a book written with love and passion . . . What began as a sports book comes to resemble something akin to 'Band of Brothers,'
by the late Stephen Ambrose (who played for the Badgers more than a decade later). . . This is an inspiring book, full of
fun and pathos and heroism."
--Dave Wood, past vice-president
of the National Book Critics Circle and former book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
the traits of the World War II generation, perhaps the most impressive some 60 years later is the ability to make do, no matter
the circumstances, and with little ceremony at that. That theme echoes throughout author Terry Frei's thoroughly researched
and ardently objective book, a chronicle of the 1942 Badgers' rapid transition from carefree college clashes against Notre
Dame and Minnesota to battling Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. . . The first half of the book establishes the principal characters
and the 'swell' atmosphere of the day, to borrow some period terminology, while detailing an 8-1-1 season in which the Badgers
were deemed mythical national champions by the Helms Foundation. With the war heightening, the majority of the players were
sent overseas to fight on the front lines, and Frei follows them relentlessly in the book's second half, focusing mainly on
(Dave) Schreiner and (Mark) Hoskins. It's a logical choice, given their long friendship, their disparate assignments and Schreiner's
status as an All-American . . . Either half of the book would have stood alone, but together they do supreme justice
to a group all too soon gone, all too easily forgotten."
Adam Mertz, The Capital Times, Madison
"David Nathan Schreiner was far more distinguished off the field,
a reality brought to life in the must-read book Third Down and a War to Go by Terry Frei." --
Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal
"With its members serving on all fronts, the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers become a microcosm of
the American war effort, representatives of a remarkable generation of self-sacrificing Americans. . . . Through Hoskins and
Schreiner, the cocaptains of the 1942 team, the author makes his most important point. Frei portrays the young men who played
football at the University of Wisconsin in 1942 and later fought for their country as truly 'All-American' boys. Having embraced
the opportunity to serve his country and risk the ultimate sacrifice, Dave Schreiner -- as both a star athlete and all-American
on the football field as well as a man of impeccable character off it -- was the definitive symbol of this. Written with the
passion of an inspired student, Third Down and a War to Go is fulfilling and powerful. It adds athletic perspective
to our understanding of the 'Greatest Generation' as well as a window into their rural, midwestern lives and their roots as
athletes, students, and friends." -- Shane Butterfield, Michigan Historical Review