Hall of Fame inductee Patton still inspires Soldiers
POMONA, Calif. – Nearly 105 years after competing in the inaugural Olympic Modern Pentathlon and half a century after leading U.S. troops through World Wars I and II, one of the Army’s greatest military leaders continues to inspire Soldiers.
Gen. George Smith Patton Jr., the lone American to compete in the inaugural Olympic Modern Pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, was posthumously inducted Feb. 23 into the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne Hall of Fame.
Patton, then a 26-year-old lieutenant, finished fifth in the Olympic event that consists of fencing, swimming, pistol shooting, equestrian show jumping, and cross country running. His hall of fame induction highlighted the opening ceremony for the 2017 World Cup 1 pentathlon competition at the Los Angeles County Fairplex Park.
“He motivated many young officers to compete and train in pentathlon,” said Dr. H.C. Klaus Schormann, president of the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne. “We saw him after the war as a civilian person loving sport, supporting sport, and based on his achievement, we awarded him.”
Col. J.J. Love of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command delivered the acceptance speech for Patton.
“As I accept this distinguished award for Gen. Patton, I realize that great success is always based on great support and partners,” Love said. “I would like to thank the entire team at USA Modern Pentathlon for their leadership and outstanding support to the U.S. Army. Your support of Army athletes and the Army World Class Athlete Program allows outstanding young Soldiers to achieve their lifelong dream of becoming Olympians.”
Several Soldier athletes and coaches from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program attended the ceremony, including 2012 Olympic modern pentathlete and 2016 coach Staff Sgt. Dennis Bowsher, 2016 Olympian Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher, and 2020 Olympic hopeful Sgt. Logan Storie.
“It was an honor and a special thing for me competing in the Olympics 100 years after he had,” Bowsher said. “He competed in 1912 and I competed in 2012. Patton was a Soldier in the Army, I was a Soldier in the Army, so that was a neat feeling and quite an honor to still be involved in the sport to see Gen. Patton get inducted to the hall of fame.”
Bowsher tried to imagine what Patton would have said had he been able to attend the ceremony.
“He’d probably drop us and make us do pushups, just so we can get on his level,” Bowsher said. “I think he would be proud that there’s still military involvement in the sport. He was the first athlete to compete in pentathlon in the Olympics and he was the only American and he was military, so I think he would be proud to see that military tradition is still there.”
Storie, a four-time All-Southeastern Conference swimmer at the University of Florida who already set two modern pentathlon world records as a Soldier in the pool, thought Patton’s induction was monumental for the sport.
“Seeing Gen. Patton get inducted to the hall of fame is probably one of the greatest things for our sport,” Storie said.
“Gen. Patton is one of the greatest generals in U.S. military history, and to know that he was a modern pentathlete just shows how diverse he was in war and in sports,” Storie added. “To be able to do these five sports is not an easy feat, and to do them at the level he did is amazing.”
Schrimsher, who recited the athletes’ pledge during the World Cup season-opener in Pomona, finished 11th in the men’s modern pentathlon event at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
“Being an Olympian and a Soldier doing the same sport as a man like Patton, who history remembers, there are not too many words to describe it,” Schrimsher said. “It’s just amazing, and it’s such a cool legacy to follow. I hope I can have a footprint on history, too.”
Patton is perhaps best known for his aggressive and decisive campaigns against the German Nazi forces during World War II. He went on to become a four-star general and one of the most successful field commanders in military history.
“It’s also an honor for me to accept this award because Gen. Patton was an armored cavalry officer, of which I am, as indicated by the yellow on my hat, the yellow on my cords, and the spurs on my shoes,” Love said while displaying a boot to the audience at the Fairplex Farm. “The Olympic movement and modern pentathlon played a significant role in Lt. Patton going on to become a fierce leader and one of the greatest leaders in military history.
“Gen. Patton led and commanded Soldiers in combat from company-level to Army-level commands, and as many of you are probably aware was featured in a Hollywood film, “Patton,” in 1970, starring George C. Scott.”