Folks of my generation vividly remember where they were when they learned of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, or watching on TV in July 1969 as Neil Armstrong took that first step onto the surface of the Moon. Children in the next generation recall their exact feelings when they heard in September 2001 about "9/11," the terrorist attacks that struck the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. And many of our Yesterday's Voices guests have shared with us how the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941 changed their lives. Locally, there was great concern for the young men on the Willamette University football team who were in Honolulu to play a game against the University of Hawaii. One of these young men was Tillman Theodore "Ted" Ogdahl, who would go on to become a renowned coach in Oregon, and the father-in-law of today's guest.
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Tillman Theodore "Ted" Ogdahl was one of those six children in Portland, all of whom went to Franklin High School where Ted excelled in track and field and football. It was football that took Ted to Willamette University and ultimately to Honolulu, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The Willamette team was there to play in the Shrine Bowl with the University of Hawaii and San Jose State University. They lost the first game of the series to Hawaii the day before, and were to start off Sunday the 7th with some sightseeing.
Soon the 27 players would be handed WWI-issue metal helmets and Springfield rifles and directed to defend Waikiki Beach, digging trenches and stringing barb wire. Later they would be part of the force guarding the Army engineers stationed at a local school. The women in the party worked as nurses' aids at Fort Shaffer, and the San Jose University students were assigned to the Honolulu Police Department.
They returned home December 26, 1941, via a cruiseliner commandeered to transport wounded servicemen. Most of the team immediately enlisted in the military. Upon his discharge from the Marine Corps, Ted Ogdahl completed his senior year and became an award-winning coach, first at Grant High School in Portland and then for many years at Willamette University.
We also had the chance to talk with Greg Ogdahl who provided us with some special family photographs. Greg, just 18 months younger than Wally, also enlisted during the Viet Nam war and was a Staff Sergeant working in the Army's intelligence section. He later worked in the restaurant and bar management field for many years, finalizing his career as the president of the Western Culinary Institute in Portland. He is married to Toni Simpson, also with long-time family roots in Salem, and they reside in Toni's childhood home up the hill from McKinley School.