Arizona Football

Remembering Arizona Wildcats who served in World War II, some of whom sacrificed their lives



The William "Bill" Lowell Memorial adjacent to the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium

The William “Bill” Lowell Memorial adjacent to the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium

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Honoring those this Memorial Day who died while serving the country this Memorial Day extends to some Arizona Wildcats athletes who served in World War II.

Three members of the Arizona Wildcats’ 1942 football team served in World War II and were killed in action.

In 2008, the Arizona Wildcats’ athletic department dedicated a memorial that was built to honor William “Bill” Lowell and fellow teammates from the 1942 football team who served in World War II. Lowell and teammates Rue Mattice and Stanley Petropolis played on the 1942 Arizona football team, served in World War II and were killed while in battle.

Petropolis was one of 19,000 American soldiers killed in the Battle of the Bulge, an attack by Germany on France, Belgium and Luxembourg late in World War II.

Lowell served in the U.S. Marine Corps and died during the battle of Iwo Jima, a monthlong conflict that killed more than 6,800 Americans. Lowell was killed two weeks past his 22nd birthday.

Mattice, a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, died shortly after Japan announced it would surrender, flying transport in the Philippines when he lost power to both engines. He died at age 22 on Aug. 22, 1945. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The memorial on the Arizona campus was inspired by J. David Lowell, Bill Lowell’s younger brother and a significant university benefactor. Lowell donated $2.5 million in capital funding toward construction of the Arizona basketball/volleyball practice facility northeast of McKale Center.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

The gravestone of former Arizona football player Rue Mattice (Mattice family photo)

The gravestone of former Arizona football player Rue Mattice (Mattice family photo)


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The memorial – which features a life-size bust of Bill Lowell – is located west of the entrance to the new Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.

Arizona didn’t field a football team in 1943 and 1944 because of World War II. David Lowell played one season, for the 1945 team that went 5-0. He ended his career prematurely to concentrate on his studies. He became one of the world’s leading experts in mining exploration.

Other notable former Arizona Wildcats survived through their service in World War II.

John R. Black

John R. Black was serving in Tokyo Bay when the World War II peace treaty was signed

John R. Black, who lettered at Arizona from 1938-40, was one of them.

Black, who passed away at age 84 in 2004, graduated from Tucson High School in 1937 and the UA in 1942. He was first team All-Border Conference in 1939 and 1940 and was captain in 1940 as quarterback and defensive back. Arizona was fifth in the nation in total offense in 1939. Black also lettered three years in basketball as starting guard. He was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame for football and basketball in 1979.

In 1942, Black entered the Navy as Ensign and attended the U.S. Naval Academy and was assigned to service at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station and then to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific from 1942-1946. Black saw action in the Lingayen Gulf Invasion and was hit by a suicide bomber.


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He was in Okinawa and then Tokyo Bay when the peace treaty was signed. He was discharged in January 1946 as Lt. Senior Grade.

After the war, Black became an assistant football and basketball coach at Arizona from 1946-1947. He was hired as head football coach at Phoenix Union High School from 1947-1951 where he won the state football championship and was elected football coach of the year. He spent most of the rest of his life in the insurance business.

The late Fred W. Enke Jr., son of Arizona’s legendary basketball Fred A. Enke Sr., did not participate in sports at Arizona until he was 21 because a Navy pilot during World War II.

Enke Jr. was a standout in football, basketball and baseball for Tucson High School before starring at Arizona. He was a first-team all-state selection in football (1941-42), basketball (1943) and baseball (1943). The Badgers won state titles in all three sports during that time.

The first college sport Enke played was basketball, shortly after his release from the service. He played for his father and led the Wildcats to 25 wins in his first season. When he played football, Enke became a single-wing quarterback for coach Miles Casteel. In 1947, he rushed and passed for 364 yards in offense against Kansas State, a school record that stood for 22 years.

Before his career at Arizona was over, Enke Jr. was baseball captain and an all-Border Conference outfielder, the starting guard on the first Wildcat team that reached postseason play, the 1946 NIT, and a record-breaking quarterback.

Enke Jr., who passed away last April at age 89, led the NCAA in total offense in 1947 with 1,941 yards and was the first Arizona football player to make the Associated Press All-America team, as a third-team selection. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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