Chuck Salmon ’52 – The Charles DeWoody Salmon Award

Eph Legends
Eph Legends

Chuck Salmon was a no-nonsense guy who never shied away from a challenge

Salmon was an outstanding offensive lineman (guard) and defensive lineman (guard and tackle) and started on both lines all three years. He, hailed from Port Jervis, NY, was the third generation of his family to play football at Williams.

"Chuck was a hard-nosed football player," said teammate Doug Foster '52. "He feared no one, including the Princeton players who gave us our only loss our junior year. As a Golden Gloves boxer, he carried that mentality to the gridiron. Against Bowdoin our senior year Chuck's opposite was giving him a hard time, when lo and behold the Bowdoin player was soon flat on the ground, out cold. We concluded that Chuck had used a Golden Gloves technique on him."

Foster also recalled a conversation with a former Lehigh player many years later who told him Salmon looked across the line of scrimmage to Lehigh's guard and said, "'How are you doing, peaches?'"

In an article about the October 1950 game against Tufts, The Williams Record stated, "Jack French, Chuck Salmon, and Bob Kimbrough were the most tightly cemented bricks in the Purple forward wall, which refused to crumble before the Jumbos' single wing power plays." Tufts had entered the game with an almost unstoppable single wing attack, but the Ephs won handily, 27-0

Bill Missimer '52, a football teammate of Salmon's, recalled, "My memories of Chuck center on his leadership skills in good times and bad. In our junior and senior years we lost the opening game, then went on to win the rest. Chuck's resiliency and drive were infectious as we sucked it up and prevailed."

Chuck Salmon '52

The Record went on to praise Salmon in the fall of 1951: "For the past two seasons Chuck Salmon has been a stalwart on the Williams football team. Standing five feet ten inches and weighing 190 pounds, Salmon has been a leading New England lineman since his sophomore year. Playing both offensive guard and defensive tackle last year, he was included in the Boston Post's All-New England selections."

"Chuck gave his all in every game," Foster added. "He did not have a bad game. He also gave his all in practice. I can personally attest to that as we banged heads in every scrimmage for three years."

In addition to playing football for the Ephs, Salmon also played freshman basketball, competed in track for three years, and served as a Junior Advisor. Salmon roomed with former NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for a year and served as a groomsman in Steinbrenner's wedding.

Salmon's play his senior year earned him a spot on the Associated Press Little All-American Team.

Upon graduating from Williams, Salmon had the opportunity to try out for three NFL teams. He turned them all down and instead joined the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned officer.

After receiving his wings, Salmon flew an F-86 Saber jet. While flying support on a reconnaissance mission off the coast of North Korea in the winter of 1955, the American group was followed by MiGs flown by either North Korean or Chinese pilots. Normally the MiGs just observed the American reconnaissance flights, but this time the chose to shoot at the Americans. Salmon and his team quickly returned fire and pursued the MiGs. Salmon shot down one plane and assisted on the downing of a second MiG.

For his effective response Salmon was received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Selected to join the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, an elite air demonstration squadron in 1958, Salmon reported to Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. While on a training flight in 1959, Salmon's plane collided with another Thunderbird, killing him. Today, a road at the air force base is named for Salmon.

Charles DeWoody Salmon Jr. never met his father the Eph football star and Thunderbird pilot as he was born after his father's death. Along with sharing his dad's name, Charles Jr. also shares his birthday.

The younger Salmon's favorite story about his dad involved a "buzzing of the Emperor of Japan's viewing stand at an air show and getting 'grounded,' which enabled him to go back to the States and marry my mom," he said. "Story I was told is that he wanted time off, and the [Thunderbird] team did not want to perform for the 'old enemy,' so it was a set up. He buzzed very low past the viewing area. He was suspended to save face for the Emperor, and he promptly went home to marry his girl." 

The Charles DeWoody Salmon Award is given to the member of the football squad who, in the opinion of the coaching staff, has made the most significant contribution to the varsity team in his sophomore or first year of eligibility

The first recipient of the Salmon Award was Bruce Grinnell '62.