Woody Hayes enlisted in the Navy in July of 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor. He asked for active duty and served his country for five years. In 1946, he was honorably discharged as a lieutenant commander, having commanded the PC 1251 in the Palau Island invasion and having served on the destroyer escort Rinehart in both the Atlantic and Pacific operations.
“People talk about how devoted Woody is to football,” Mrs. Hayes once observed. “He was just as dedicated to the Navy. Why, we had been married only five days when he asked for sea duty. He didn’t get it at once, but he did request it. Stevie was nearly nine months old before Woody saw him for the first time.”
Throughout his coaching career, military icons, in fact, played a large part in the manner in which his teams operated, down to running plays being named “Patton” for General George Patton. Former Ohio State fullback Pete Johnson recently remarked, “Patton #1 through #6—those were all my plays.”
(Information about and specific comments made by Woody Hayes and others were drawn from the following sources: Woody Hayes: The Man & His Dynasty, edited by Mike Bynum; I Remember Woody: Recollections of The Man They Called Coach Hayes, by Steve Greenberg and Dale Ratermann; and Woody Hayes and the 100-Yard War by Jerry Brondfield.)