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Trade Paperback, 2007

Hardcover, 2004


Third Down and a War to Go
was a 2007 trade paperback

Third Down and a War to Go:

The All-American 1942 Wisconsin

Badgers was a 2004 hardback 


Ordering Links


Wisconsin Historical Press: 




Tattered Cover: 









Barnes and Noble:





Excerpt: Monumental 1942 Ohio State-Wisconsin game


Excerpt: The death of an All-American Hero 



"Terry Frei has captured the spirit of a different time in this country, a time of faith in school and in country, a time of intense loyalty to teammate and fellow soldier. Third Down and a War to Go tells the story of one University of Wisconsin football team during World War II. But to limit the tale to that is like saying Angela's Ashes is about Ireland. This book brings to life, in shades of black and blue and blood red, the idea that certain things are worth fighting for."

--Rick Morrissey, Chicago Tribune


 “Tirelessly researched and relentlessly touching. The true allegory of football and war, minus the cliches.”

--Jay Greenberg, New York Post

"Terry Frei set 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 




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. 


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




"While 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



"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 

 “Many 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 

"...a 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."
--Dwight Chapin, San Francisco Chronicle

"Here’s 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.

"Of all 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 



"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


"David Nathan Schreiner was far more distinguished off the field, a reality brought to life in the must-read bookThird Down and a War to Go by Terry Frei."

-- Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal


"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
"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."
--Doug Warren, Badgernation.com






The Badgers' 1942 co-captains, Dave Schreiner and

Mark Hoskins, as childhood buddies in Lancaster,

Wisconsin. If they look guilty here, they probably

had just come from convincing someone else to

whitewash a fence for them. A few years later in

Madison, they were (right)...


Lancaster Boys as '42 captains: Dave Schreiner (80),

Mark Hoskins (11). After all those years, it took Uncle

Sam to separate them, with Hoskins becoming a B-17

co-pilot in Europe and Schreiner becoming a Marine

lieutenant in the horrific Pacific island fighting.



Sophomore Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch follows the blocking

of junior Pat Harder against Ohio State. Before the season,

which would turn out to be Hirsch's only one at Wisconsin,

famous Madison columnist "Roundy" Coughlin advised that

every Badger fan should "buy a ticket and hold onto your

seat. We haven't had a runner like that since you used to

wear stiff hats and button shoes going to class."


On the first day of '42 fall practice: sophomore

halfback Elroy Hirsch (40), senior tackle Bob

Baumann (74), senior end Dave Schreiner (80).



First Lt. Gerald "Jerry" Frei, United States Army Air

Forces, after getting his "wings." An 18-year-old

sophomore backup in the '42 season, he was 20 

when he flew the first of his 67 combat missions

in his P-38. He later would be the only man on

the planet who had won both the Air Medal

(three times) and Super Bowl championship

ring (twice).   


Thanksgiving 1943: Dave Schreiner and his fiancee,

Odette Hendrickson, at the Schreiner family home

in Lancaster. From the left: Schreiner's Aunt Emma,

sister Betty Johnson, mother Anne, and father Bert.

The baby with her back to the camera is Betty Johnson's

daugher and Dave's niece, Judy Johnson.



Bob Baumann's fiancee, Arlene Bahr, is wearing his letter

sweater as she visits the Madison firehouse where Baumann

and teammate George Makris -- destined to be Bill Cosby's

football coach at Temple -- lived during their college years.

It was one of the perks for Badger athletes: For free rent, they

closed the big doors after the fire engines departed. Jerry Frei

and Ken Currier lived in another firehouse.


Former Badger teammates Dave Schreiner

and Bob Baumann "square off" outside a Marine

hut in the Pacific. They were two of the four

lieutenants in "A" Company, 4th Regiment, 

Sixth Marine Division. On the back of the

original of this picture, which Baumann sent

to his fiancee, Arlene Bahr, he wrote: "Junior

(Schreiner) and I putting on a show." Their fighting

and their fates in the Battle of Okinawa are 

the climax of Third Down and A War to Go



 Sixty-three years after that family dinner in Lancaster, Judy Johnson Corfield, Dave's niece, is on the field with Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez at Camp Randall Stadium at halftime of the Wisconsin-Northwestern game in 2006. They're watching as the tarp is removed from the upper deck facade on the stadium's west side, revealing (at right)...