Monday, May 26, 2014

This Knight was right

     
      It is Memorial Day; it is a solemn holiday in the United States, a day to honor those in the military who gave their lives for their country. And that always makes me think of Henry Lee "Trey" Prather III.
      I wrote about Trey and Memorial Day two years ago, recalling my first visit to his gravesite two years earlier -- the first time I'd been there since his funeral in January 1968.
      He was a good friend, a great athlete, he was from a wonderful family with a notable athletics history, and his life ended so tragically and affected me and many of my friends from Shreveport generally and Woodlawn High School specifically.
      There are others from Woodlawn who died during the Vietnam War and their names, like Trey's, appear on the memorial in the center of the quadrangle at the school. They all deserve our admiration; I focus on Trey because I knew Trey.
      I saved several newspaper articles and photos about Trey; obviously I've had those clippings for decades. I am sharing a few today, probably not the first time I've posted them.
      The headline to this blog piece was the lead-in for the cutline on one of my favorite game-action  photos of Trey. It appeared in the afternoon Shreveport Journal the day after one of his greatest games for Woodlawn; gosh, that game happened only 50 years ago.
      It was a basketball game -- not football, in which he was the Class AAA All-State quarterback -- and it was against our arch-rival, Byrd High, and it was a game we did not win (we did not win many in basketball). But Trey was magnificent, the best player on the court that night.
      He had 18 points, although one of my closest friends, Ken Liberto, was our top scorer with 20. Funny how opposing fans and, well, us, too, regarded those two guys' attitudes: Ken was ice, Trey was fire. Some other schools' fans loved to razz Trey, especially the Byrd fans. That's a vivid memory from those games.
      But that night the Byrd fans had to admit Trey was the dominant player, especially late in that very close game. He was 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts, 2-of-4 on free throws, and three times in the final three minutes made shots that put us ahead.
      In the final seconds, he made another basket that would have given us the win ... except the teammate who passed him the ball was called for traveling (it was the correct call, incidentally, much as it teed me off.)
      But, yes, that night "this Knight was right." I do love that photo: Trey is in charge.
      The photo on the right is Trey as the cutline lead-in reads "In Football Pose" -- his LSU football photo-day shot before the only varsity season (1966) he was a quarterback for the Tigers.
       This photo was in the paper in January 1968, a couple of days after Trey's death was announced.
It is not a good memory.
        But look at that photo, look at that ruggedly handsome, tough-looking football player.
        I only saw Trey one time after high school, up at Woodlawn the summer after our freshmen years (mine at Tech) and I've had people tell me that Trey at LSU was -- to put it diplomatically -- not all that focused on football, disenchanted because he didn't fit into LSU's run-oriented, sprint-out offense and wasn't playing all that much. He became, as someone put it, "an edgy person," with priorities other than football and classes. You can imagine the specifics.
        So he surprised even his friends, dropped out of school and joined the Marines ... in the middle of the Vietnam War. He could have transferred to another college and played more football (after sitting out a transfer year), but that did not happen.
        A year later, he was gone.
        It hurt then; it hurts now.
        But it's history, and it's Memorial Day, and four years ago I thought it was the perfect day to stop by Trey's gravesite -- and that of his parents. That visit was long overdue. http://nvanthyn.blogspot.com/2012/05/memorial-day-memory.html
         I add this newspaper clipping, one that Jerry Byrd wrote for the Shreveport Journal in May 1984 after we attended the annual early May memorial service at Woodlawn honoring the school's ex-students who died in military service. It was a day to remember and, as the headline on the column says, "A name to remember."
         R.I.P., Trey. R.I.P. all the service personnel who gave their lives, and peace to their loved ones.

        
  
         

27 comments:

  1. From Marion "Pou" Prather Crisp: Thank you for the Memorial Day tribute. I still get sad and will always miss him. Often when I would watch my grandsons play, I would think back and smile because a part of Trey lives on in them.

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  2. From Raleigh Whitehead: I had come home from Tech due to the flu and was sick in bed. My mother brought me The Times and I sat up in bed and unfolded the paper. That's when I saw the news about Trey. I'll never forget that day.

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  3. From Maxie Hays: Wonderful Memorial Day story. So very, very sad. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. From Dick Hicks: Thanks so much for sending this article. I remember Trey as a nice guy but a hard-nosed competitor in basketball and baseball. I remember on more than one occasion driving in for a layup and Trey stepping in the lane with his aggressive nature and slamming me as if to say "not in my house." A great guy indeed.

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  5. From Doug Bland: Like probably a lot of younger athletes Trey was my idol. One of my greatest thrills was making the Southern Hills Rebel baseball team as the youngest player on the team that included Trey, Bryon Sprawls, etc.
    I copied or tried to copy everything Trey did. At Oak Terrace I saw him wearing a yellow shirt with matching socks. I made my parents go out and buy me the same thing. He batted with a gap between his hands, I copied that. I also tried to copy the way he dribbled a basketball by turning his wrist. Never got that down.
    Dressing out for football when I was a sophomore and sitting two rows behind him on the bus as it went from Woodlawn to State Fair Stadium with a motorcycle escort still gives me chills. I think Woodlawn spoiled me for the rest of my athletic life. But it was worth every minute. Thanks for reminding me.

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  6. From Tommy Youngblood: Really nice post. I won't delete this one. It's nice seeing his picture. I remember him being the stud athlete but forgot how well he could play all the sports. I think he was the only guy on our team at LSU that was in all sports. Thanks for writing him up.

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  7. From Joe Ferguson: Great story, great guy, probably the best of all of us. Would loved to see how far he could have gone.

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  8. From Beverly C. Porche: Thank you for your words that some of us have difficulty expressing but have the same feelings for Trey and all others who gave their lives.

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  9. From Roger S. Braniff Sr.: Thanks for the post. This name and others traveled through my mind memory yesterday. At my church one of our former pastors, Wayne DuBose, started the morning service with a prayerful tribute to those that lost their lives in the wars, but focused on the Vietnam era. He said he recently attended his 50th high school reunion in Alabama. And there in the lobby of the school was a memorial to two of his classmates that he was close to back then. They had later lost their lives in that war. So, as he started his prayer he said, perhaps if you are from that era you may know some classmate that also perished in this war. If so, during this moment of silence speak that one or those names in your own mind, and thank God for their sacrifice, that we may today worship in freedom in this great country.
    Three names then passed through my mind -- Trey Prather, Glen Ogburn and Harold O’Neal. I know there were at least two others at WHS but the names I could not remember at the moment. Thanks for the memories!

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  10. From Nancy Evans: Thank you. ...but he is always on my mind this time of year. Remember his grandparents making the memorial at WHS year after year and I did when my daughter attended WHS in the '80s.

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  11. From Pamela Fain: Awesome person and quarterback!

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  12. From Cayce Hand: I went by to place a flag and there were four already there. I was so happy to see I'm not the only one who goes to pay my respects to Trey. The Shreveport Times honored him with a small article in today's paper.
    Thanks for honoring Trey.

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  13. From Deborah Valentine Collins: A wonderful tribute to Trey. It seems like yesterday to me. God bless all our soldiers.

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  14. From Karen Carr Hogan: This makes me remember how awesome he was. Thank you.

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  15. From Larry Feazel: Thanks. Trey was a part of the neighborhood gang of Vernal Lane -- Mary Lou Bizet, Sherry Leopard, Suzie Stoll, Karen Bryant, Randy Hand, me and my sister Dianne and his sister Marion (Poo). I had not been back from V.N. very long when Mamma called me to tell me of our loss. It grieved me deeply I couldn't go home for a final salute. ...It still does.

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  16. From James D. Hill: A fine tribute to a great athlete and person. Thanks for the reminder on this Memorial Day.

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  17. From Richard Ashford: (Posted this link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahuewdtlpaU ... Vietnam Soldier Project -- Henry Lee (Trey) Prather.

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  18. From Jimmie Cox: As always a moving tribute to a great athlete from a real close friend. Good work.

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  19. From Larry Lewis: Great article. I remember him anytime I think of WHS football.

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  20. From Kirby Needles: Thanks for researching and assembling this. I didn't know all of this and I had wanted to know more.

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  21. From Rebecca Wyatt Bailey: Thank you for posting; have visited the memorial in Washington and seen his name.

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  22. From Diane Thompson: Thank you for this. None of us ever forget Trey. My son is named after my husband and is the "III." We call him Trey.

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  23. From Patti Garrett: Wonderful tribute to a fellow Knight.

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  24. From Terrie Brooks: Thank you for the wonderful post. I was the girl engaged to Trey at the time of his death. Have never gotten over the hurt. Ran into Terry Bradshaw one day and we discussed Trey quite a bit. He was a wonderful person, the very best!

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  25. From Jeanette Serio Courtney: A wonderful tribute for a great guy. I remember when it all happened and was sad then and still am.

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  26. From John English: As always, a great article. I’ve forwarded it to several people in my firm who are either Shreveporters or LSU alums. It was an interesting comment from one of the readers about visiting Trey’s grave. I visit it every time I visit my parents’ grave and there are always flags and flowers there. I always assumed that they were put there by Pou until you mentioned that she lives in Florida. Now I assume that they are put there by schoolmates, which strikes an even deeper emotional chord.
    I also remember seeing Trey play in a game at LSU when, just as you describe, Charlie Mac substituted Trey for one series of downs and then put Fred Haynes in and left Trey on the bench. I honestly think that was the last time I saw or heard of Trey until I read the notice of his death in The Shreveport Times while I was sitting in the (Louisiana Tech) Tonk.
    Somewhere I read that we are all immortal as long as someone remembers us. Thanks for keeping the memory of Trey alive.

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  27. From Kathleen Mullen: Both Glen (Ogburn) and Trey were such nice guys. I didn't know the other guys. Such a loss to us all.

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