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In 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

fi 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,

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 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 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 of

gung-ho. 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

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.

 

Wayne 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

the 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

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.