Baylor’s Medal of Honor recipients recognized with statues outside McLane
During World War II, two Baylor alumni — both former student-athletes — were recognized with our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for their bravery. Today — thanks to another generous Baylor graduate — these two heroes have been honored in perpetuity with statues outside McLane Stadium.
At Baylor, John Kane (BA ’28) played football and basketball; in fact, he survived the train crash that claimed the lives of the revered “Immortal Ten.” In 1943, Col. Kane led a daring air strike through difficult weather to take out Nazi refineries in Romania. Over the course of the grueling 2,400-mile round trip mission, his bomber had lost an engine and been struck more than 20 times by anti-aircraft artillery. For his “conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of life above the call of duty,” Kane was awarded the Medal of Honor. (Four others were also awarded the medal, making the raid the most highly-decorated single engagement in the nation’s history.)
Jack Lummus played football, baseball and basketball for the Bears, earning recognition as both an all-Southwest Conference defensive end and center fielder. He played in nine games with the NFL’s New York Giants in 1941 before enlisting in the Marine Corps, where he eventually rose to the level of First Lieutenant. In 1945, Lummus led his rifle platoon against Japanese fortifications on Iwo Jima. Mortally injured by a land mine, he continued to exhort his men to keep going in a victorious day for the Marines. Lummus succumbed to his injuries later that day and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation proclaimed his “outstanding valor, skilled tactics and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds… He gallantly gave his life in service of his country.”
Before Saturday’s Baylor-Kansas State football game, statues honoring Kane and Lummus were unveiled on the McLane Stadium plaza, just off the Umphrey Bridge over the Brazos River. The effort to honor these Baylor heroes was spurred forward and funded through a gift by Haag (BBA ’88) and Millette Sherman.
The statues are the work of Baylor alumnus Dan Brook (BA ’83), a Native American artist based in Dallas (and a former Baylor football player himself). The likenesses now stand as a reminder of the lives Kane and Lummus lived at Baylor, beyond their World War II heroism, and as a reminder of the rich tradition of bravery and military service among Baylor alumni.
Sic ’em, Bears!