On Veterans Day, I dug through the file cabinets at Redskins Park to research the history of one of the most accomplished military service members to play for the franchise, quarterback and Marine Corps vet Eddie LeBaron.
I found the above picture of George Preston Marshall sitting with LeBaron in uniform along with some faded press clippings.
LeBaron earned recognition for courage before he began an 11-year NFL career. At 5-foot-7, the man known as “the Little General” earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for service in Korea from 1950-1952. He signed a contract with the Redskins in 1950, but was called to active duty shortly after graduating from the University of the Pacific.
The following accounts of heroism come from a profile of LeBaron published in the Dec. 6, 1959 issue of Classmate Magazine.
“In May, while serving as a mortar section commander, he found himself in a covered position behind a ridge when the assault elements of his company were held up by heavy Communist small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire. Eddie voluntarily left his covered position and courageously ran to a forward observation post swept by enemy fire. From his exposed position he called down accurate and deadly mortar fire on the enemy positions.
“When the commander of the assault rifle platoon became a casualty, Eddie assumed command without hesitation, reorganized the platoon, and continued the assault. His initiative and courage inspired all who observed him and led to the destruction of the enemy force. For this gallantry, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
“In September of 1951, while his platoon was under persistent artillery and mortar barrage, Eddie scrambled over an exposed area with complete disregard for his own safety to rescue critically wounded members of his platoon.”
In 1952, LeBaron returned to football and inherited Washington’s offense from Sammy Baugh. The veteran was named the NFL’s rookie of the year and later made four Pro Bowls. After his playing career ended, LeBaron practiced law and served as general manager of the Atlanta Falcons.
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