the 1942 Colorado-Colorado A&M game, one of the Buffaloes’ standouts was center Don Brotzman, a senior from Merino
who later was a long-term U.S. Congressman. His teammates called him “Meatnose,” because of all the shots he took to the nose as the center.
From his home in Alexandria, Virginia, he vividly remembered the game’s opening kickoff
, because he looked downfield and spotted his buddy, Aggies’ star Lewis “Dude” Dent.
The previous summer, Brotzman worked on a state highway department crew
on the Western Slope. “We laid oil roads over there, and I was the night watchman for all the equipment,”
Brotzman said. “I also drove a state highway truck.”
Dent was driving a truck for an oil-drilling operation in the same area and living in Craig,
his hometown. Their paths crossed. “Dude was a really good athlete and he had a hell of a
lot of character,” Brotzman said. “He kind of took me under his wing and we went to a lot of dances over
there on the Western Slope.”
All summer, they teased one another about their upcoming meeting on the field that fall, and they popped off about
who was going to hit whom first—and how hard.
When the kickoff dropped right into Dent’s hands, Brotzman had a free run at his friend. “Man, I hit
him a good shot,” Brotzman said. On the ground together, they laughed about it.
* * *
Dent starred in everything at Craig High, graduating in 1939. At A&M, Dent was
the region’s best fullback and he also played basketball and ran track for the Aggies. He worked as a busboy in
a campus cafeteria.
Perry Blach said of Dent, “We
looked up to him, and he was always there when we needed him.” John Mosley added, “I did a lot of blocking for
him. We had a great experience together. He was a great friend in showing that I didn’t need to fight all my battles
all by myself.”
While at A&M, Dent married
Mildred Bach, a fellow student from Denver. In 1943, when athletic directors voted Dent the best all-around athlete in the
Mountain States Conference, he was in the Army reserves and serving as a physical training and commando tactics instructor
on campus. He had taken field artillery instruction in advanced ROTC. When he was called to active duty in May 1943, he was
four hours short of receiving his mechanical engineering degree.
“There’s plenty of chances for glory in the armed services,” he said in an Associated
Press story. “As a matter of fact, if the Army looks as good to me from the inside as it does from the outside,
and if I’m any good as a soldier, I’ll probably make it my life career. . . . If the Army doesn’t like me,
or I don’t like it, I’ll come back after the war, make up the four hours and go on with my engineering.”
Four other products of A&M’s Advanced
ROTC program—Wayne Seaman, Al Hoffman, Irv Ferguson, and Gordon Rutherford—went through training with Dent at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. “After that, some of us got into a battery executive school
for a month, and Dude and I were in that,” Seaman told me from his home in Evans, Colorado. “We’d had a
lot of experience with live ammunition, more so than a lot of guys in the division we ended up with. After that, you had a
list of choices where you could go, and the Fourth Armored Division was getting ready to go overseas, and we were kind ofn
gung-ho. A bunch of us signed up for that, and they took the five of us from A&M. Dude, Al, and I went into the same battalion,
the 94th Armored Artillery Battalion.”
Ferguson was assigned to a tank battalion and Rutherford went to another artillery battalion.
The 94th Battalion arrived in Europe in late
1943. “Dude and I had one leave together in London,” Seaman said. “We went our separate ways once we got
there, but we went back and forth together.”
Lieutenant Lewis S. “Dude” Dent was killed in action near Troyes, France, in August 1944.
When I talked with them, his teammates didn’t
know any details about his death, but they had heard that he had been awarded the Silver Star. A photo taken at the couple’s
northwest Denver home accompanied the vague news story in the Denver Post. It showed his widow, two-and-a-half-year-old son
Richard, and infant daughter Cheryl.
Dent was in a pool of forward observers with the 94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion as the unit moved toward
German-occupied Troyes. He was told the night before the battle that it was his turn in the forward observer rotation.
The next day, Dent and his driver were in
an open jeep, ahead of the U.S. forces advancing toward Troyes over huge expanses of open ground. Those at the command
center heard Dent give firing coordinates, then scream. He had been hit by German fire.
Wayne Seaman said, “I was in a tank. We were in what I call desert
formation, spread out, going into this town. A German popped out of a foxhole and sprayed Dude across the stomach. I heard
he jumped out of the jeep and said, ‘Keep going.’ But that was hearsay because I was nowhere near him at the time.
We went into Troyes and I heard about Dude there.”
In the Pacific, CU star Don Brotzman heard about Dude’s death. “I just felt terrible,”
he said. “I felt like I had lost a great friend. I had lost some others, of course, but I thought about it a lot.
I still remember hearing it, so precisely.”
Of the original group of five Aggies, Rutherford also was killed in action.
Ferguson later became A&M’s baseball coach. Hoffman was killed in a plane
crash shortly after the war. Seaman worked for the Colorado Game and Fish Department for thirty-one years, primarily
as a fish biologist and researcher.
Dent first was buried in France. His remains later were brought back to the United States, and he was re-interred
in the Golden Gate National Cemetery near San Francisco.