On Christmas Eve 1944, two all-star football teams took the field to play the game of their lives. They were former collegiate players, record breaking All-Americans, and a number of team captains from schools like Cornell, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Brown who represented one of the greatest pools of football talent ever assembled. They should still have been playing at these universities, but instead they were stationed in the middle of the Pacific ocean, on an island called Guadalcanal, now U.S. Marines training for what would be the bloodiest battle of WWII, the battle of Okinawa. That football game became known as “The Mosquito Bowl”.
“It was over a few beers that former collegiate football players in the 29th Regiment of the 6th Marine Division stood toe-to-toe with former collegiate football players of the 4th Regiment and made the emphatic claim that the 29th would kick the 4th’s ass if there was ever a football game between the two”, writes Buzz Bissinger in his newest book The Mosquito Bowl, “which of course was preposterous in a place like Guadalcanal with a war going on.”
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, college football was at the height of its popularity. As the nation geared up for total war, one branch of the service dominated the aspirations of college football stars: the United States Marine Corps. “If you merged the players from the 29th and the 4th into one team, it would not only have posed a challenge to any National Football League franchise, with proper training it most likely would have beaten most of them, as the aggregate included sixteen players who had already been drafted by pro football or would receive offers.” Read More