Joe Shell: Captain, American Hero

Joe Shell copy.jpg
Joe Shell [left], 1939 team [right], rosebowlhistory and USCtrojans

If you have never heard of USC captain Joe Shell, that’s because he was winning national championships before your parents were even born. Not only did Shell play halfback for coach Howard Jones’ famous “Thundering Herd,” but he won a pair of Rose Bowls and captained the 1939 national championship team.

Joe Shell was a man who will be remembered for his service, not only to his USC team but to his country as well. According to the USC site: following college he served in WWII as a civilian flight instructor with the US Army Corps, joining the Navy in 1944 where he was a senior pilot in the air transport service. Following the war, Shell became an independent oil-man and was later elected to the California State Assembly where he won 5 consecutive elections through 1961 eventually becoming Assembly minority leader. Shell even ran for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1962, only to lose to Richard Nixon.

Sadly, as reported by USC, Shell died Monday April 7, in Bakersfield, California. He was 89. The man who was so often larger than life, will be remembered in Trojan lore for years to come.

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