Bob Westfall - Biography - Service in World War II

Service in World War II

In November 1941, the Associated Press ran a story about Westfall being rated as class 4-F and therefore ineligible for the draft. Westfall told reporters that a perforated eardrum and a tendency to asthma resulted in the 4-F classification. The AP noted: "Bullet Bob Westfall may look like a physical wreck to his draft board but he's on his way to national recognition as at least one of the greatest fullbacks again this season." After Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps.

In late December 1941, the Detroit Lions selected Westfall as their first-round pick (5th selection overall) in the 1942 NFL Draft.

In February 1942, Westfall married his college sweetheart, Ruthmary Smith of Wayne, Michigan. At the time of his wedding, Westfall told reporters that after graduating in June, he might play for the Lions if the Army would not take him.

In the summer of 1942, the Army did take Westfall despite his 4-F rating. Westfall was initially assigned to play for the Eastern All-Army football team, but he broke his left elbow after falling from a horse in August 1942. Westfall had played in the College All-Star game in late August unaware that his elbow was broken.

In August 1943, an Army newspaper reported that Westfall had "washed out" of the Army Air Corps flight school because, "of all things, he was too nervous." According to another account, he "cracked up his plane while training." {In actuality, he suffered from air sickness which culminated in his damaging a training plane during an attempted landing.} Westfall was subsequently reassigned to the Air Corps radio operator program at Scott Field in Illinois.

In December 1943, Westfall received a medical discharge from the Army Air Corps while still stationed at Scott Field. He was reported to have been discharged as a result of bronchitis and asthma.

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