In the 1942 Colorado-Colorado A&M game,
one of the Buffaloes’ standouts was center Don Brotzman, a senior
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
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.
kind of took me under his wing and we went to a lot of dances
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
rst—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,
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
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.
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
active duty in May 1943, he was four hours short of receiving his mechanical
“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
other products of A&M’s Advanced ROTC program—Wayne
Seaman, Al Hoff man, 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
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 of
A bunch of us signed up for that, and they took the fi ve of us from
A&M. Dude, Al,
and I went into the same battalion, the 94th Armored Artillery
Ferguson was assigned to a tank battalion and Rutherford went to another
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
France, in August 1944.
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.
Seaman and Roger Boas, an eighty-seven-year-old retired car
dealer and political figure in
San Francisco, filled in the blanks about Dent’s
death when I spoke with them in 2009. Boas
explained that he and Dent
were in a pool of forward observers with the 94th Armored Field Artillery
Battalion as the unit moved toward German-occupied Troyes. Boas, who
served as the
battalion adjutant, said Dent 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. Boas was back at
the command center. “We heard Dent give fi ring coordinates on the radio, or
try to, and all of a sudden, we heard him scream,” Boas said. “That was when
bullets hit him.”
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
he said. “I felt like I had lost a great friend. I had lost some others, of
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.