The McGraw brothers: Veterans and athletes of CSU

Military tradition at Colorado State University has a long-tenured and proud history. Many of our heroes throughout CSU sports are also heroes for their country, protecting and serving the United States in the military. 

Among those who attended Colorado State and served in the military, the McGraw brothers should be held in the highest regard. 

On this Veterans Day, be proud of the great veterans that once called CSU home and no matter where their deployment took them, were always proud to be CSU Ram. All information regarding the McGraw brothers and their stories is attributed to John Hirn, a volunteer historian for CSU Athletics.

The McGraw brothers

The McGraw family consisted of fearless and proud brothers. Many Ram fans know of Fum McGraw and his history with CSU, but few know about his two older brothers who served in the military. The oldest brother, Bill McGraw, started his freshman year at CSU in the Fall 1940. Bill started his football career in 1940 and played for the varsity team in 1941 as an end. In the same year, his younger brother, Hersh McGraw, began playing for the freshman team. 

Following the 1941 season, Bill went off to fight with the 3rd Marine Division in the South Pacific as Hersh took over at the end of the 1942 season. Hersh later joined the U.S. Army after one season of CSU football, eventually transferring to the infantry as he was soon sent to Wales to train for D-Day. 

In the South Pacific, older brother Bill commanded a halftrack unit for the Marines and fought in the battle of Bougainville from November 1943 to January 1944. He then took part in the battle of Guam from July 21, 1944, to Aug. 10, 1944. Bill was then sent back to Washington, D.C., to study at the Officers Training School in Quantico, Virginia, where he met and married his wife of 50 years, Jeannette.

Over in Europe, Hersh McGraw arrived in April of 1944 and took part in the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach on June 6. He was scheduled to receive a battlefield commission, but Hersh stepped on a landmine and his right leg had to be amputated. He was discharged in 1946 with a Purple Heart and returned to Colorado A&M to complete his degree. Bill soon returned to receive his degree as well.

Both Bill and Hersh graduated in 1948 and began careers revolving around football and the battlefield. 

Bill McGraw received his master’s degree in 1950 and moved to Grand Junction, where he later became the director of athletics and physical education for Mesa County Schools. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the CHSAA Hall of Fame in 1989 and was also inducted into the Colorado Coaches Hall of Fame. Bill McGraw served 20 years with the Colorado National Guard following his discharge from the Marines; he died on June 6, 1995, in Grand Junction at the age of 73.

Hersh McGraw coached athletics at Fort Morgan High School soon after earning his degree from Colorado A&M and later coached and managed athletics at the Colorado School of Mines. In 1954 he returned to Colorado A&M as the business manager of athletics and in 1956 was an assistant coach of freshman football for the Rams. After leaving CSU, he went on to found McGraw and Company, a land-planning and development firm that later consulted for the construction on the Auraria Campus and several other colleges in Colorado. Hersh McGraw died on Oct. 24, 1996, at the age of 71 in Fort Collins.

The McGraw brothers did not only enhance the lives of CSU alumni but provided our country with a great service that shall be rewarded with the highest gratitude. Their story of heroism embodies that of devotion to one’s country and contrition toward Colorado State University. Bill and Hersh serve as an example of what a proud CSU Ram looks like both on the field and overseas, standing proudly beside their teammates and next to their brother.