War vet to be honored at assembly, home opener

Korean War Veteran and Maize graduate Leland Alexander to attend pep assembly and football game

Ellie Stucky and Abby McCoy, Sports Editor and Co-Editor-In-Chief

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It has been 67 years since Leland Alexander stepped on a Maize football field.

That will change Friday night.

Alexander, who graduated from Maize in 1951 and then left for war, will deliver the game ball and toss the coin for the first home football game this season.

The 86-year-old Korean War Veteran, who played six-man football at Maize, is excited to see how the times have changed.

“It’ll be interesting to observe the way life is now compared to how it was back when I was in school,” Alexander said.

Alexander said sports were important to him and his family. He remembers how his father lived for football and supported him at every game.

“He’d run up and down along the sidelines, cheering and hollering and cheering us guys on,” he said.

The year after graduation, Alexander was drafted into the Korean War. While serving, he witnessed the only test of an atomic bomb shot from a cannon.

“That was like the world was going to end,” he said. “I was 21 years old. It was a mushroom cloud when it exploded. That was the scariest looking thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Alexander was in a dugout. He said he put his hands over his face with his eyes closed but still could still the bones in his fingers.

“A lot of [people attending the test] died of cancer because they got too much exposure to the blast,” said Alexander’s wife of 65 years, Shirley. “Some of them couldn’t have children. We’ve always been blessed because he didn’t get cancer and we were able to have three sons.”

Their sons — Lee, Glen and Greg — also graduated from Maize and played football. They  will be in town Friday and join their parents along with four of Leland Alexander’s siblings at the pep assembly and football game.

The pep assembly will begin after fourth block. There will be a modified schedule Friday. The game against Valley Center will start at 7 p.m. People who attend the game are encouraged to bring aluminum cans. Cans are being collected to help Kansas Honor Flight send veterans to Washington.

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