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  • Writer's pictureJames Sargent

Homeward Bound

Blog from Long Pursuit, Ch 1, p.1

Mickey Mathews, All-American

November 26, 2022

Mickey Mathews’ flight on the DC-3 settled onto the tarmac at Willow Run Airport after one long bounce, just as the golden ball of the sun over southern Michigan was setting in the west under stripes of orange-colored clouds. Mickey looked out the round window at the signal man, his face impassive and his black hair and gray dungarees billowing in the stiff breeze as he waved the large passenger plane ahead with a red light in each hand. As the plane taxied toward the terminal gate, a pair of brown hawks darted past the window as if they were racing a big silver competitor.

Around him Mickey heard passengers chattering about the end of the two-hour flight from Chicago... As he leaned back and waited, the Michigan native closed his eyes, reflecting back a week ago to when Yancey White telephoned him in Honolulu, on Thursday, August 26, 1943.

The onetime campus star smiled about hearing from the college president. Mickey graduated from Michigan State Normal College in 1933, one week after finishing a sparkling .375 season for the Hurons’ baseball nine. The bright, tall, even-tempered investigative writer who grew up in Flint had a soft spot in the heart for his alma mater as well as for Ypsilanti, which felt like his second home town. Those were the glory days, he thought, smiling about some of his favorite memories from three exciting years of wearing Normal’s green and white.

… But Mathews’ life was about to change, thanks to White all but twisting his arm so he would return to Ypsilanti and take on a secret assignment.

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