In 1981, The HOYA debuted a series of vignattes titled "Great Moments In Georgetown Sports", written by Bill Ferraro. Mr. Ferraro graduated from Georgetown with an A.B. in American Studies in 1982 and received his Ph.D. from Brown University. He is presently a researcher at the University of Virginia. This first secion is his feature on Al Blozis (C'42).
"A fair number of Herculean athletes have competed for Georgetown, but rarely has one combined muscle with modesty as Alfred C. Blozis, Class of 1942. The son of a 300 lb. Lithuanian day laborer, young Al used his awesome physical inheritance to become a four sport star (football, track, swimming, and basketball) at Dickinson High in his home town of Rutherfield, New Jersey. First recruited by Georgetown, Blozis offered this initial interest as his reason for choosing to enroll at the Hilltop in 1938. His second choice, Notre Dame, was the most prominent loser.
Shot putting was Blozis' specialty, and the event in which he would smash records with stunning regularity. Principally a football player in high school, his shot putting began accidentally. Working out by the track one day, Blozis was nearly hit by an errant toss. Angered, he heaved the heavy ball back to the thrower so impressively that the coach immediately placed him on the squad. Blozis went on to set 24 schoolboy track and field records.
Freshman ineligibility rules kept Blozis from competing on the varsity level his first year. Under the tutelage of "Hap" Hardell, veteran Hoya track mentor, Blozis developed a shot putting technique that took maximum advantage of his agile feet and perfectly chiseled 6-5, 250 lb. body. When Blozis began competing as a sophomore, neither coach nor athlete waited long for returns on their time and effort investment.
Blozis romped through the indoor track season and concluded on April 10, 1940 with one of the most amazing feats in the history of track. Going north to Madison Square Garden, Blozis shattered the world indoor marks in three different shot putting events. He hurled the 16 lb. ball 55'- 1", two and a half feet beyond the existing indoor record; the 12 lb. ball three feet over the world mark; and the 8 lb. ball 78'-1/4"-a new record by over eight feet!
Blozis would excel throughout his track career, breaking meet shot put records in 23 of the 26 meets he participated. However, he would never officially hold the absolute world mark in the event's most important category--the 16 lb. shot. Jack Terrance had established the world's record in 1934 with a heave of 57"-1". Blozis best competitive throw was 57' even. At the meet in which me had this toss, Blozis did throw one near 58'; unfortunately, this effort was for a photographer shooting for a magazine, and was not eligible as a record.
It is difficult to believe, but Blozis preferred football over track. Given his immense bulk and strength, it is not difficult to believe that Blozis was an effective, often terrifying, gridder. Clumsy when he first appeared as a Hoya footballer, he matured into an All-American tackle. Known for his violent straight-ahead charges after the snap, opponents frequently tried to "mousetrap" Blozis by running him into a blocker rather than vice versa. These plays initially threatened Blozis, but the problem was soon solved by using his long and powerful arms to tackle both blocker and
runner. Impressed by his stellar play, the New York Giants drafted Blozis after he graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in 1942.
Blozis played for the better part of two seasons with the Giants before leaving for the war in Europe. During that time he was an outstanding performer, being chosen All-Pro, and given special acclaim for his ability to obliterate would-be kick returners in the open field. For his exploits, Blozis was named to the 1940-1949 "All Decade" team.
The saddest aspect of Al Blozis' life was its brevity. Endeared to this country, Blozis sought long and earnestly to obtain a dispensation from military height restrictions. He finally received his wish when inducted into the United States Army on Dec. 9, 1943. During infantry training, he again exhibited his outstanding physical ability by throwing a hand grenade 284'-2 1/2" (95 yards) --nearly three times the previous distance of a normal throw and demolishing the previous record throw easily. Yet, in the end, this attribute did nothing to protect his life. On his first patrol, less than two months after playing his last game on the Gridiron, Lt. Alfred Blozis was killed in the Vosges Mountains during an encounter related to the Battle of the Bulge. Al Blozis was 26 years old.
Blozis' premature death robbed football of a standout player, track and field of a virtually certain Olympic gold medalist, and Georgetown of a devoted alumnus. If it is any indication, he received just recognition of his talent while alive. Most notable is a UPI award selecting Al Blozis one of the three outstanding athletes of 1941.
If you were wondering, the other two were Ben Hogan and Joe Louis."
The Al Blozis story is more complicated, however.
In the seventy years since his untimely death, the story of Blozis is a vital part of Georgetown athletics lore. Much has been rightly written about his football prowess on the Hilltop, his track accolades, his NFL Rookie of the Year and All-Pro honors, but comparatively little about the battle in the Vosges Mountains that cost Blozis his life at the age of 26.
Many of the accounts of the battle played to Blozis' heroism: that he was fighting behind enemy lines to rescue fellow soldiers. A reader to this web site, Mr. David Coats, forwarded ans account of Blozis' final battle from someone who witnessed it first hand.
"My father, Lowell S. Coats, served with Al
Blozis during Blozis' very brief time in combat. My father served in
Co. A, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He was the
Company Communications Sgt. at the time Lt. Blozis joined A Co. in
January, 1945, and was in an adjacent foxhole when Lt. Blozis was
"I thought I'd shed a little more light on that sad event in case you
wanted to update and clarify this portion of his bio on your web
site. If there are any of Blozis' family that maintain contact with
Georgetown perhaps they would appreciate this information as I doubt
they ever learned much about how he died.
"In January, 1945, the 110th Regiment was regrouping in Fumay France
after having been decimated during the initial days (Dec. 16-18,
1944) of the Battle of the Bulge. The 110th was in the direct path
of the German breakthrough and took the full brunt of the German
offensive. The Germans out numbered them by ten to one and by the end
of the 3rd day of the battle the 110th ceased to exist as a fighting
unit. But before the regiment was completely overrun they had
managed to slow down the German advance putting them well off their
timetable and they had bought enough time to enable the 101st
Airborne Division to get into Bastogne before the Germans cut off
access to the city. This, too, would serve as one of the key
successes in the early days of the battle. The regiment suffered a
very high casualty rate of about 67 percent during the breakthrough. My
father's platoon would be the only surviving unit from A Co.
"Sometime in late January shortly after Lt. Blozis was assigned to A
Co. they were rushed south to the Colmar Pocket to assist the Third
Army in cleaning out the last remaining German forces west of the
Rhine. It was essentially the last German offensive of the war and
the men sometimes referred to this battle as the 'Little Battle of
the Bulge'. The 110th's 1st Battalion to which Co. A belonged was
held in reserve while the 2nd and 3rd battalions participated in the
liberation of Colmar and began the push to the Rhine. Although in
reserve, Co. A was nonetheless given the task of taking a prominent
point in the Vosges Mountains toward the rear of the combat zone near
the French town of Orbey. The mountain or large hill was called
Black Mountain by the Army but its real name was Le Cras. The
village of LaBaroche is nearby.
"My father didn't follow professional football and only knew that Lt.
Blozis had played for the Giants during the recently completed
season. I don't think any of the men knew he was a world record
holder in the shot put. The men had never seen a man so large and
powerful, and his size gained even more impact as they followed him
during the three-hour advance up Black Mountain through snow that was
waist deep. During the advance they encountered no German
resistance. It was Lt. Blozis' first day of combat.
"Upon reaching the summit they dug in as best they could but the
Germans didn't wait long to come calling. On the way up the company
passed by some old WWI pill boxes located at the mountain's base.
The Germans moved into those emplacements and began shelling Co. A.
Then they moved up the mountain and began attacking Co. A directly.
"My father's foxhole was adjacent to Lt. Blozis'. During the close-in
fighting Lt. Blozis took a grenade in his foxhole. He wasn't dead
but was gravely wounded. They did all they could to save him but
they badly needed to get him off the mountain and to a field hospital
as quickly as possible. The Company's CO and my father spent a great
deal of time on the radio with Division HQ's trying to work out how
to get him down the mountain but General Cota, the CG of the 28th
Division, said that it was still extremely dangerous and that it was
imperative that they stay put.
"Although they had repelled the German attack that first day they
still remained trapped there for two more days. Two men took it on
upon themselves to try to find a safe way off the mountain so that
Blozis could be evacuated but they were captured. One of the
captured men had a twin brother in the company and his twin had to be
restrained from going after his brother after he learned of his capture.
"After three days the Free French division broke through and brought
them off the mountain but it was too late for Lt. Blozis. Blozis was
the only death from enemy fire. The other casualties, in addition to
the two men who were captured, were men who had to be carried off the
mountain due to "trench foot" --their feet had frozen in the severe cold.
"One of the men carried down with frozen feet was one of my father's
best friends, Cecil Hannaford. They were brought down a different
way than the rest of the company. When Cecil came into the clearing
at the base of the mountain he was shocked to see dozens of dead
GI's, face down in the snow, having fallen right where they were cut
down during their advance on the base of the mountain in an attempt
to break through the German line and reach Co. A.
"Immediately upon their evacuation from Black Mountain around Feb.
3rd, Co. A was rushed to the front line and joined the rapid drive to
the Rhine. They would be the 1st to reach the Rhine in this sector.
"The severity of Lt. Blozis wounds combined with the intense cold and
the inability to evacuate him to a field hospital gave him no chance
of survival. I know if affected my father deeply. He was one of the
men trying to keep Lt. Blozis alive but in spite of their efforts he
had only been able to watch and listen to him slowly die. Of all the
misery my father experienced during his six months of combat, Lt.
Blozis' death would be one of his most difficult and painful memories."