Sign In For Members Join Sign In
  • Donate

  • For Members

  • Who We Are

  • Our Mission Our Faith Our History Supreme Officers About Membership Video Library
  • What We Do

  • Charity Insurance Invest Donor-Advised Funds Programs Scholarships Churchloan
  • Get Involved

  • Join Donate Find a Council Store College Councils
  • News Hub

  • Latest News Columbia Knightline Faith Response Social Media Hub
  • Contact Us

  • Safe Environment Program

  • Careers

  • Who We Are

    What We Do

    Get Involved

    News Hub

    One for the Gipper

    A grand knight of Notre Dame Council 1477 propelled the Fighting Irish to a historic win in 1928

    by David Davis 12/1/2018
    Jack Chevigny scores a touchdown “for the Gipper” in the third quarter to tie the game against Army at Yankee Stadium Nov. 10, 1928 Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images

    A century ago, George Gipp led Notre Dame’s football team in rushing and passing for three consecutive seasons. He was named the university’s first-ever All-American in December 1920, and less than two weeks later, he died of a streptococcal infection. Gipp’s legendary status was solidified in November 1928 when his coach, Knute Rockne, inspired Jack Chevigny and the Fighting Irish football team to “win just one for the Gipper.”

    Chevigny (pronounced shev-knee), who served as grand knight of Notre Dame Council 1477, took Coach Rockne’s words to heart when facing the undefeated Army team. It was halftime at Yankee Stadium, and Chevigny, a 5-foot-7, 170-pound halfback, was determined to win.

    He proved instrumental in the victory and, after graduation, went on to become a coach and then a successful lawyer. He later volunteered to serve in World War II, and on the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, he made the ultimate sacrifice. Today, Chevigny is remembered as a legend in his own right, and the 1928 victory at Yankee Stadium remains a defining moment of his legacy, signifying his resolute and loyal spirit.


    Born in August 1906 in northwest Indiana, John Edward “Jack” Chevigny served as president of his senior class at Hammond High School before enrolling at the University of Notre Dame in 1924. He planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician, but football won out.

    His timing was excellent. The Roaring ’20s marked the first “Golden Era” in sports, powered by nationwide radio broadcasts that brought the action into America’s living rooms.

    Babe Ruth was leading the Yankees to World Series victories, while professional boxing, tennis and golf stars similarly excited public interest.

    Among team sports, college football ranked just below baseball in popularity, and Notre Dame was cementing its image as a perennial gridiron power. A black-and-white photograph of coach Rockne’s famed “Four Horsemen” backfield generated a frenzy of national attention in the fall of 1924, as Chevigny began his freshman year. The Fighting Irish finished the season undefeated, 10-0, including a victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

    Nicknamed the “Hammond Flash,” Chevigny was built for speed. He was also a superb blocker and defender who threw his muscular frame into the fray on both sides of the ball. Rockne called him “one of the greatest team men I ever had.”

    Chevigny’s reputation as a fiery competitor was secured during the epochal contest against Army on Nov. 10, 1928. Notre Dame was a middling 4-2 when the team arrived at Yankee Stadium to face mighty Army, a two-touchdown favorite to defeat Rockne’s undermanned team. At halftime, the game was scoreless. That’s when Rockne drew upon a former gridiron great for motivation.

    The players sat at their lockers, and Rockne recounted his final hospital visit to George Gipp, who lay dying of an infection exacerbated by pneumonia. As the story goes, Gipp told him: “Some time, Rock, when the team’s up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys — tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.”

    Inside the hushed locker room, Chevigny, now a senior, was sitting to Rockne’s right. He leapt up and cried, “Let’s go!” before the team charged back onto the field.

    Still, it was Army that drew first blood, scoring early in the third quarter to take the lead, 6-0. Then, after Chevigny recovered a teammate’s fumble on a muffed punt, Notre Dame drove down to Army’s one-yard line. Facing fourth-and-goal, Chevigny took the ball and plunged into the end zone. After scoring the tying touchdown, he reportedly yelled, “That’s one for the Gipper!”

    Chevigny’s day wasn’t finished. In the fourth quarter, with the game tied 6-6, Notre Dame began to drive down the field. A poor snap from center caused the ball to skitter away from the backfield. What could have been a ruinous error, however, was rescued when Chevigny sacrificed his body to recover the loose ball. Pinned beneath a cadre of Cadets, Chevigny suffered a concussion and had to be helped from the field, replaced by Johnny O’Brien. The next play proved to be crucial: “One-Play” O’Brien, as he came to be known, caught a 35- yard touchdown pass to clinch a 12-6 upset victory.

    It was a game for the ages, and Chevigny was at the center of the action. In 1940, Hollywood would re-enact the dramatic halftime speech in Knute Rockne, All-American, starring Pat O’Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as the Gipper. (In the film, actor Steve Pendleton wears Chevigny’s No. 12 uniform.)

    Chevigny, who served as a U.S. Marine Corps captain during World War II, is pictured in uniform a year before he was killed in action at Iwo Jima Feb. 19, 1945. AP Photo


    After graduation, Chevigny was rewarded with a spot as an assistant coach on Rockne’s staff. He helped Notre Dame win back-to-back national championships with undefeated seasons in 1929 and 1930, all the while assisting Rockne with his coaching clinics and finishing studies for a law degree.

    The next spring, Rockne died in an airplane crash at age 43. He was en route to Los Angeles to participate in the production of the movie The Spirit of Notre Dame. Devastated by his mentor’s sudden death, Chevigny stayed on for a year at Notre Dame as a “junior coach” under Heartley “Hunk” Anderson, another Rockne disciple.

    Chevigny left South Bend to coach the Chicago Cardinals in the fledgling National Football League. After one season, he returned to the collegiate ranks as the head coach at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, established by the same Holy Cross order as his alma mater. Chevigny guided the squad to a 7-1-1 record and caught the attention of the University of Texas, where he was soon hired to turn around the fortunes of the slumping Longhorns.

    In 1934, Chevigny took on his alma mater in South Bend. Notre Dame hadn’t been defeated in a season-opener in 38 years, but Chevigny’s Longhorns upended that streak with a 7- 6 upset victory that left many, including Chevigny, speechless.

    The remainder of his coaching career was not as auspicious, and within a couple of years, he resigned to become the deputy attorney general of Texas.

    When the United States entered World War II in 1941, 35- year-old Chevigny was determined to fight for his country, but was initially rejected because of the knee injuries he had suffered playing football.

    He eventually accepted a commission as a first lieutenant with the U.S. Marines and coached the football team at Marine Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was so successful with the Leathernecks that he could have spent the war safely on the sidelines. However, he requested a transfer to combat duty and was assigned to the 5th Marine Division as the U.S. unleashed its long-awaited offensive in the Pacific theater.

    On Feb. 19, 1945, the division landed on the east side of Iwo Jima and immediately encountered fierce resistance by the Japanese. At one point during the first day of battle, former college football star George “Sonny” Franck dove for cover into a crater and landed next to Chevigny, his boyhood idol, along with several other Marines.

    They huddled together until Franck decided to bolt from the shelter. He exited in the nick of time; Chevigny and the others were killed by artillery fire.

    Later that year, as Japanese officers were signing the surrender papers aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, it was said that one of the pens used that day was inscribed with the words: TO A NOTRE DAME BOY WHO BEAT NOTRE DAME. Legend has it that the pen was later sent back to the States with the inscription changed to read: TO JACK CHEVIGNY, A NOTRE DAME BOY WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS COUNTRY IN THE SPIRIT OF OLD NOTRE DAME.

    No member of the family could recall seeing the pen in either form. But its legend lives on — a tribute to Jack Chevigny’s life of service and sacrifice.

    DAVID DAVIS is a veteran sports journalist who writes from Los Angeles.



    Logos & Emblems

    Photo Library

    Press Releases

    Recent News

    Supreme Convention

    Video Library


    Chaplain's Report


    Fraternal Leader Advisory


    Knights in Action

    Share your Knights in Action News


    Please contact the
    Knights of Columbus News Bureau, 475-255-0097

    Knights of Columbus 1 Columbus Plaza New Haven, CT 06510 203-752-4000

    Connect With #KOFC

    Who We Are

    Our Mission Our Faith Our History Supreme Officers About Membership Video Library

    What We Do

    Charity Insurance Invest Programs Scholarships Churchloan

    Get Involved

    Join Donate Find a Council Store College Councils

    Member Resources

    Sign In For Members Safe Environment Program Brand Assets Benefits
    This website uses cookies, including third-party cookies, to optimize the functionality of the website and for website analysis and statistics. To find out more about cookies and how to change your cookie settings, please go to our Cookie Policy. Click Allow if you agree to the use of cookies.