Hometown hero remembered

9 Oct

Who remembers the old Holleder Stadium?

Holleder_Don_posed closeupHolleder Memorial Stadium was a 20,000-seat football stadium at the corner of Ridgeway Ave. and Mount Read Blvd., where an industrial park now stands. It was built as the home of Aquinas football, and was originally called Aquinas Memorial Stadium.

In 1974, the stadium was renamed Holleder Stadium, in honor of former Aquinas and Army quarterback Don Holleder, a Webster resident who was killed in Vietnam on October 17, 1967, in the Battle of Ong Thanh. Next week, on the 50th anniversary of Holleder’s death, Webster will honor its hometown hero once again, with a ceremony at the Holleder Army Reserve Center in Webster.

First, a bit of history:

Holleder attended West Point, where he was a stand-out football player. During his senior year he led Army to an upset of Navy before 102,000 spectators in Philadelphia, and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated that week.

After graduating from West Point, Holleder served in the Army, and over the next ten years rose to the rank of major, serving in Hawaii and Korea, returning to West Point occasionally to work with the football program.

In 1967, Holleder asked to be sent to Vietnam, where he served as Operations Officer for 28th Infantry Regiment — the Black Lions. On Tuesday October 17, 1967, he was killed by a sniper as he ran to the rescue of several soldiers trapped during the Battle of Ong Thanh. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on April 27, 2012.

On Tuesday October 17, exactly 50 years from the day Don Holleder made the ultimate Holleder_Don_mug (1)sacrifice, Webster will remember him with a ceremony at the Holleder Army Reserve Center, 515 Ridge Road in West Webster.

The ceremony, which begins at 6 p.m., will be attended by Holleder’s two oldest daughters; his West Point roommate, Ransom “Jerry” Amlong; Webster Boy Scouts; and active duty Army members and veterans. The Patriot Guard will deliver a special American flag that was flown on Capitol Hill on August 3rd, which would have been Holleder’s 83rd birthday.

The entire community is welcome. Young men are especially encouraged to attend to learn more about the Black Lion Award, established in Holleder’s name to recognize selfless, team play.

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