No he wasn't an over-sized and over-hyped sports hero. He was a real American hero. When WW11 started he quickly enlisted. Always interested in aviation, he entered training to be a pilot. He took his first training in New Jersey and Bakersfield Ca. He earned his wings as 2nd Lt. at Luke Field in Arizona. Lieutenant Witzig was then sent to Hawaii for combat training, where he was promoted to First Lieutenant. He was killed on June 27, 1944, while piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt over Tinian. With no real combat experience, 6 months from the day he enlisted he was sent on his first mission where he was shot down by a more experienced Japanese pilot.
Richard was the only son on John and Ethel Witzig. Devastated, they sold their business in Goodfield and moved to California. Richard's dad was my mothers brother. A plaque dedicated to him may be found on the Peoria Courthouse Memorial grounds as he was working for Caterpillar the day he enlisted. He is a true hero. Most sports heroes do not vote and few, except for ones like Officer Tillman, would ever consider enlisting to fight for our great country.